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Dec 5, 2017,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Waymo putting autonomous vehicles on US roads without a safety driver

In the city of Chandler, Arizona, driverless mini-vans designed by Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet and Google, will soon be taking passengers on the roads. The vehicles will have an employee of the company on board but who will not be acting as a safety driver. The vehicles have undergone a great deal of testing and in time will be able to be booked via an app.

Waymo autonomous car

 

Driverless mini-vans designed by a Google and Alphabet subsidiary dedicated to autonomous vehicles by the name of Waymo have been out on certain roads in Arizona since mid-October. Furthermore, no human has been behind the wheel, even as a safety driver, despite the fact that most of the competition is currently planning to keep an actual person on board until at least 2020.

 

Waymo employee on board but not as a safety driver

 

As reported in website The Verge, CEO John Krafcik announced Waymo’s latest innovation at a high-tech conference held in Lisbon, Portugal on 7 November, saying that the company should very soon have members of the public driven around in its automatic vehicles. To begin with, there will be an employee of Waymo in each van, but not in the driver’s seat.

The long-term aim is to be able to develop a commercial service based around Waymo cars. Customers will be able to book the driverless vehicle using apps along the lines of Uber. "People will end up using our fleet of vehicles on demand for all of their trips – going to work, getting home after a night out or simply doing their shopping," Krafcik anticipates.

 

Nearly 10 million kilometres of testing

 

The CEO is optimistic for good reason, after an initial security report on Waymo cars that was published recently saw the company congratulated by Elaine Chao, US secretary of state for transport. The 41-page document is based on the results of tests carried out over 5.6 million kilometres of public highways and 4 million kilometres on simulators. 

 

Service initially available in a limited area

 

The Waymo mini-vans will initially only be able to transport passengers within a specified area, namely the city of Chandler which is a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. At a later stage, once the vehicles have acquired more data, they will be able to journey beyond these limits. 

 

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