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Waymo is taking the next step in the driverless auto evolution

08 November 2017

A limited number of the Chrysler Pacifica fleet has begun testing without safety drivers within a designated area of the city, and the company will expand the program to include more cars within a 600 square mile region "over time". He expresses that if these last "sans-human" test drives based in Phoenix go well, it'll be a short gap to bridge between that and allowing passengers to ride in the automated minivans without a Waymo employee tagging along to ensure safety: "Once you've taken the driver out, putting a rider in becomes something like an afterthought". That type of system is actually stipulated by regulators in most areas where autonomous testing is allowed on public roads, but as the technology matures, rules are changing. (Waymo says that won't always be the case, though.) The cars won't have free rein over Arizona's roads. It completed its first successful test of a ride-hailing service two years ago, when it ferried a blind man in the Austin, Texas, area, and has since been testing its service with engineers in the front seats of its vehicles.

In the year since it spun off from Google, Waymo has moved aggressively to test its cars on public roads.

A self-driving electric shuttle built by Navya was tested early this year in Las Vegas in a United States first and will start a regular route there on Wednesday, the company told AFP.

But Waymo isn't going it alone. In his speech, Krafcik enumerated the many advantages that Waymo's vehicles have over its competitors. "Because they no longer have to be designed around a driver, just people", Krafcik said. The lasers can see objects in three dimensions, up to 300 meters away.

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In a show of confidence, Alphabet's autonomous auto unit, Waymo, is phasing out the need for a test driver in its vehicles. "Our radars can see underneath and around vehicles, tracking moving objects usually hidden from the human eye". "Waymo's work here in Chandler is groundbreaking as they work toward their goal of fully autonomous vehicles", said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny, in a statement provided by Waymo.

Over time it is expected that self-driving technology could dramatically improve the safety on our roads.

And because Waymo is operating its vehicles in Arizona, where the laws regulating autonomous tests are practically non-existent, a lot of the reporting on the progress of these vehicles will be incredibly one-sided.

Waymo, which is owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, is in a race with other companies such as Delphi, General Motors, Intel, Uber, Apple and Lyft to bring autonomous vehicles to the public.

Waymo is taking the next step in the driverless auto evolution