Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Waymo removes the driver from self-driving auto tests in Arizona

Waymo's fully self-driving cars are here Waymo now testing its self-driving cars on public roads with no one at the wheel
Heather Davidson | 08 November, 2017, 01:49

Waymo recently hosted a number of journalists at its private Castle testing compound, and treated us to rides with no safety driver behind the wheel - now, the former Google self-driving auto company is going farther still, however, launching public road tests of its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans with no safety driver on board. Self-driving vehicle companies typically have a safety driver ready to take over in case of an emergency, and safety drivers are mandatory in some states.

Waymo chief executive John Krafcik used the Web Summit in Lisbon to announce a portion of its fleet in the Phoenix area will operate in fully autonomous mode with the cars handling all the driving. Little did we know at the time, they were already doing it.

Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo LLC said Tuesday it is testing fully driverless cars on public roads around the Phoenix, Ariz., area. He ticked off the ways driverless cars could be redesigned if the vehicle didn't need space for a driver: to ferry groceries, as a "personal dining room" or for naps. "Our ultimate goal is to bring our fully self-driving technology to more cities in the US and around the world".

Earlier this year, Waymo launched an early rider program in the Arizona city as a way of getting more information about both rider use cases and vehicle performance.

The company began testing self-driving vehicles in Chandler in 2016.

During a demonstration last week, Waymo gave rides to reporters on a closed course that included citylike scenarios. The company has partnerships with Fiat-Chrysler, Lyft, and Avis, even while it's manufacturing its own sensors and hardware to reduce dependence on suppliers.

"This is the most advanced vehicle we've developed to date", he said. "Our radars can see underneath and around vehicles, tracking moving objects usually hidden from the human eye".

The company plans to eventually launch a driverless on-demand ride service, potentially eliminating the need for vehicle ownership in the long term.

Waymo is a company created out of Google's self-driving programme, and was seen as a way to step up efforts to commercialise the firm's industry-leading efforts in autonomy.

"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". "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".

Dozens of companies are testing self-driving technology on public roads across the United States and some autonomous features are available in today's cars.

Ditching the human test driver may sound alarming, but it brings Waymo closer to offering a truly autonomous vehicle.

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