Alphabet's Waymo tests fully driverless cars in Phoenix

08 November, 2017, 01:11 | Author: Randy Kelley
  • Waymo to take on Uber and Lyft with its fleet of self-driving minivans

To date, Waymo vehicles have been operating on public roads with a test driver at the wheel.

The company's next goal will be to expand self-driving services to a 600-square mile radius around Phoenix.

Self-driving vehicle competition between the auto industry and tech companies is fierce.

The company also says it has redundant braking, steering, power and computing systems so it never has to rely on a human driver.

The move by Waymo, which started October 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona, is a major step toward vehicles driving themselves without human backups on public roads.

In the year since it spun off from Google, Waymo has moved aggressively to test its cars on public roads. Vehicles developed by rival Uber - which is locked in a bitter legal fight with Waymo over the technology - has covered more than a million miles and allowed Pittsburgh residents to hitch rides in autonomous vehicles spinning through the Pennsylvania city's streets.

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He expects General Motors and its Cruise Automation autonomous vehicle unit to be the next to announce testing without human backups, followed by auto parts maker Delphi, which recently acquired Massachusetts Institute of Technology self-driving software startup nuTonomy.

The company also shared some details about the expansion of its pilot program in a blog post.

"Everything in [Waymo's autonomous cars] is designed and built for full autonomy", Krafcik said.

Waymo did not specify how many cars will be on the roads for the beta program, but described it as a "fleet". "Our radars can see underneath and around vehicles, tracking moving objects usually hidden from the human eye". "I look forward to a continued partnership with Waymo as they continue to develop this technology here in Chandler and throughout the region". "At the same time, this research and development taking place in our community will ultimately make our roads safer and provide new freedom for those unable to drive". We're told a Waymo engineer will be present during early tests of the biz's ride-hailing app service, and will eventually leave passengers alone with the robo-rides during their journeys.

Waymo competitors, including Uber have said ditching human drivers could remake the economics of taxi services, ridesharing and freight hauling.

"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". Autonomous pilots typically depend on safety drivers to monitor the road and take control of the vehicle in case the vehicle encounters a situation it can't handle.

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