Waymo rolls out autonomous vans without human drivers

Waymo rolls out autonomous vans without human drivers

Waymo rolls out autonomous vans without human drivers

"We want the experience of traveling with Waymo to be routine, so you want to use our driver for your everyday needs", John Krafcik, Waymo's chief executive officer, said at the Web Summit conference in Portugal.

Starting now, Waymo's fully self-driving vehicles - our safest, most advanced vehicles on the road today - are test-driving on public roads, without anyone in the driver's seat.

According to The Verge, a Waymo employee will still be in the vehicle, but likely sitting behind the driver's seat instead of in it.

"To have a vehicle on public roads without a person at the wheel, we've built some unique safety features into this minivan".

Waymo, the driverless auto arm of parent company Alphabet, revealed the "next phase" of the project, which is one of the most developed in autonomous vehicle in the world. For the moment, this fully autonomous driving mode is limited to a 100 square mile metro region. And soon, members of the public will get to use these vehicles in their daily lives. "Our system runs thousands of checks on itself every second". 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.

Sam Abuelsamid, senior analyst for Navigant Research, says Waymo's tests without a human backup are the first to his knowledge on public roads at normal speeds.

Phoenix has very consistent sunny weather and wide roads.

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This is all possible in part because Arizona hasn't bothered slapping autonomous cars with heavy regulations in the manner of states like NY, which has allowed - appropriately, considering the location - a "Wild West" approach to testing.

The Alphabet arm has racked up more autonomous test miles on roads than others developing the tech, including Ford Motor Co. and Uber Technologies Inc.

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

Waymo, formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, is getting into the ride-hailing business, but with a twist.

At first, those passengers will be accompanied in the back seat by a Waymo employee, but eventually they will travel alone, although they will be able to hit a button to stop the auto.

Waymo is hoping to infuse its technology into ride-hailing services such as its current partner, Lyft, and big-rig trucking companies. No date has been released for the launch of the commercial endeavour, but just setting a vague timetable is a change from last week when Gizmodo took a ride in one of Waymo's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

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