Waymo is first to operate driverless cars on public roads

10 November, 2017, 01:40 | Author: Manuel Hopkins
  • Alphabet is finally taking the driver out of some of its driverless cars

While this move is still geographically limited, it marks the beginnings of Alphabet's driverless future finally becoming a reality. The company has been running cold weather tests since 2012 and will bring its self-driving cars to MI this winter for more testing.

The company is also getting ready to initiate its first commercial driverless taxi service. It could give the company a significant leg up on its competitors, which include GM's Cruise, Tesla, Ford's Argo AI and startups like nuTonomy, which recently was acquired by Delphi.

"Having lived through fourteen MI winters, I'm confident that there are few better places that will prepare our self-driving cars for winter conditions". And Honda is also working with Waymo to help it reach what's known as "Level 4" autonomous driving capability, a scale defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Google ditched early tests of its self-driving cars after some of its test drivers "fell asleep" behind the wheel, reports The Daily Telegraph. Using a smartphone app, members of the public would be able to summon a Chrysler Pacifica people carrier.

But where Waymo may be lacking relative to its competitors is in its automaker relationships.

Last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a partnership with Waymo, which would see the auto maker help Waymo develop the sophisticated equipment required for a self-driving vehicle.

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During the early phases of trialling the company's autonomous systems, the newspaper says, test drivers were "falling asleep at the wheel while at 55mph on a motorway".

"After more than eight years of development, we're taking the next step toward unlocking the potential of fully self-driving technology", said Waymo CEO John Krafcik at the Web summit in Lisbon, Portugal. The company reports its self-driving vehicles have traveled 3.5 million miles on US public roads through 20 different cities.

This is how most self-driving programs will roll out across the USA - from small geofenced areas with fewer complexities like suburbs to more congested cities.

However, there will not be a safety driver behind the wheel "as has been the case previously", says the news site.

As the company's cars gather more data and then learn from it, Waymo will expand the initial geofence to parts of the city that have more variables, like higher-density city traffic. Most of the measures Waymo has described in the past have involved a human taking over control of the vehicle from the driver's seat, but that would be quite hard to do from the back of the auto.

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