Heading to the Bay Area
California has a track record of strict regulations for autonomous cars, but as the technology progresses, it has loosened some of its rules. It now allows companies to test autonomous vehicles without a safety driver behind the wheel on public roads, within certain limits. And Waymo has been granted the first permit in the state for these truly self-driving cars.
Waymo will test its fleet around the headquarters of its parent company Alphabet, which owns Google. The vehicles will roam around Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto, the company said in a recent blog post. If Waymo chooses to expand to other areas, it will notify the affected communities and submit a request to the DMV.
Waymo has been granted permission to test on city streets, rural roads, and highways in the daytime and evening. The company is no stranger to autonomous cars without safety drivers. Its fully driverless cars have been shuttling around passengers in the Phoenix area of Arizona for more than a year now as part of an early rider program. Eventually, Waymo will open a similar program for the public in the Bay Area.
Since its inception in 2009, Waymo says it has logged more than 10 million autonomous miles (16 million miles) on public roads across 25 different cities. The company has a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids fitted with sensors to support autonomous driving, and it’s in the process of adding autonomous Jaguar I-Paces (pictured above). The last we heard, Waymo was exploring the possibility of developing autonomous tech for trucks. Despite the advances made by multiple automakers and tech companies, we’re still a long way from an autonomous future, thanks to limited infrastructure as well as legal and ethical hurdles.