Waymo Begins Testing Completely Self-Driving Cars on Public Roads

Alphabet is finally taking the driver out of some of its driverless cars

Google's Waymo Is Launching a Driverless Ride-Hailing Service

"Over the next few months, we'll be inviting members of the public to take trips in our fully self-driving vehicles".

Waymo and its partners face competition from a wide range of auto makers, established technology companies and well-funded start-ups.

That doesn't mean that there won't be cars operating outside of these geofenced areas with a safety driver behind the wheel or that Waymo has outright won the driverless auto race.

Google ditched early tests of its self-driving cars after some of its test drivers "fell asleep" behind the wheel, reports The Daily Telegraph. As the program grows more popular, expect to see it expand to cover an area "the size of Greater London".

"Waymo's work here in Chandler is groundbreaking as they work toward their goal of fully autonomous vehicles", said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny in a statement.

The company will initially introduce these truly driverless cars in a part of the Phoenix metro area called Chandler, which the company picked because it has a simpler road system than a busier city like, say, San Francisco. Waymo's leap to Level 4 is a huge step beyond even the Audi AI system of the new A8, which can take over driving but only through low-speed highway traffic jams. Yes, Waymo plans to let the public use its self-driving cars, but they'll only be able to do so in a relatively small area.

The company is also getting ready to initiate its first commercial driverless taxi service. "Our Chrysler Pacifica minivans are our most advanced self-driving vehicles to date, and testing in snow, sleet and ice will help further hone our driving capabilities".

I Am Not An Engineer, but it strikes me that a commercial taxi is one of the hardest things for a self-driving auto to do.

With over eight years of testing under its belt, Waymo is a pioneer of self-driving technology and has tested its system in six states, the latest being MI. The company reports its self-driving vehicles have traveled 3.5 million miles on USA public roads through 20 different cities. On public roads, like they will be testing starting in the Detroit area soon, each Pacifica Hybrid will have a "highly-trained" driver inside.

Waymo, the autonomous auto division of Google, conducted the tests between 2012 and 2013, says Tech Crunch, when the company planned to introduce a "semi-autonomous" system that could handle multiple driving functions.

The minivan's self-driving tech includes a "suite" of sensors, purpose-built computer, engineering changes to the electrical, powertrain, chassis and structure.

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