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Waymo cars hit the the road without drivers

08 November, 2017, 01:46 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • Waymo's fully self-driving cars are here

Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo LLC said Tuesday it is testing fully driverless cars on public roads around the Phoenix, Ariz., area.

"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".

More than eight years after it began, Waymo, the company spun out of Google X's self-driving auto project, believes its technology is ready to take to public roads as a fully self-driving vehicle - without anyone in the driver's seat.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Participants in our early rider program will be amongst the first to experience these fully self-driving rides, using our vehicles to commute to work, take the kids to school, or get home from a night out.

The Silicon Valley company is accelerating the competition to bring the first fully autonomous vehicle to market.

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 vehicle.

Waymo does have plans to expand the coverage, with its blog post noting how it will eventually cover a "region that's larger than the size of Greater London".

Krafick also announced that the company is going to launch a driverless ride-hailing service in the next few months. 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.

Following eight years of development and an ongoing public awareness campaign, Waymo's self-driving cars are now transporting passengers without a human behind the wheel. "One (vehicle) for napping, a personal dining room, a mobile office, or a vehicle just for when moving into your new place". People could claim the cars for a day, a week "or even longer", he said. But unlike other companies working this kind of technology, such as Tesla, Waymo's products have not had a commercial application, and therefore, were making no money back on what has been an almost-decade-long, expensive investment.

Krafcik said Waymo's cars have already driven autonomously the equivalent of 140 times around the globe, and in just the past year have driven billions of miles in simulation. Arizona, like many states, has no restrictions against operating an autonomous vehicle without a person in the driver's seat. 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.



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