Waymo's Self-Driving Cars to Ditch Human Test Drivers

EnlargeWaymo

Unlike California, which is another hotbed for self-driving vehicle testing, Arizona doesn't require companies to publicly disclose accidents involving its cars, nor the number of times human drivers were forced to take control of their driverless vehicles.

The self-driving vehicle is edging closer to becoming driverless. The current passengers for this test are Waymo employees, however, so it's not as if the Alphabet-owned company is throwing caution to the wind; instead, it's showing that it's ready to move to the next major phase of operations after around a decade of working on this incredibly complex problem.

Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo LLC said Tuesday it is testing fully driverless cars on public roads around the Phoenix, Ariz., area. "People will get to use our fleet of on-demand vehicles, to do anything from commute to work, get home from a night out, or run errands", Krafcik said. "Because they no longer have to be designed around a driver, just people", Krafcik said.

The next step for Waymo is a big one: a commercial ride-hail service, in which riders can hail one of the company's autonomous minivans via an app like Uber or Lyft. Arizona has been particularly welcoming to autonomous auto companies.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik announced the fully driverless trials at Web Summit today, and revealed the video above, and also noted that while the trial is starting with employees first, it's soon going to expand to the existing members of the Chandler driverless ride hailing service trial that Waymo kicked off at the beginning of 2017.

"This demonstrates Waymo's confidence in the ability of these vehicles to function at least in this environment", Abuelsamid said.

"A fully self-driving fleet can offer new and improved forms of sharing: it'll be safer, more accessible, more flexible, and you can use your time and space in the vehicle doing what you want". "You can even have that eight-seater SUV for your weekend trips".

Consumer Watchdog asked whether Waymo is releasing its robot cars in "beta" mode to tweak them while they're being used.

The cars no longer need only to get from A to B. They must also handle the menial tasks of operating a taxi. Waymo's full safety report can be read here. Riders were greeted inside by screens in the back seat with instructions to push a blue start button on the ceiling. Google was awarded a patent in July for a system that enables self-driving vehicles to find pickup and drop-off spots. "Circling to try again".

Like the rest of the self-driving industry, Waymo has generally kept test drivers in self-driving vehicles as a safeguard. Waymo's cars will initially be limited to a 100-square-mile zone around the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, although that radius should naturally increase as Waymo undertakes more research.

Waymo brought its driverless cars to Novi last month in a push to test the vehicles in snow, sleet and ice this winter.

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