|Waymo now testing its self-driving cars on public roads with no one at the wheel |
Posted Nov 7, 2017 by Darrell Etherington ( @etherington)
Waymo recently hosted a number of journalists at its private Castle testing compound, and treated us to rides with no safety driver behind the wheel – now, the former Google self-driving car company is going farther still, however, launching public road tests of its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans with no safety driver on board. The tests aren’t limited to one or two routes, either; the test area where the truly driverless trials are being conducted is in Chandler, Arizona (part of the greater Phoenix metro area), and the cars are able to go anywhere within this defined space. It’s hard to understate the importance of this milestone: Waymo is operating at full Level 4 autonomy, sharing public roads with human-driven cars and pedestrians, with no one at the wheel able to take over in case things don’t go as planned.
That shows confidence – confidence that Waymo has managed to achieve truly capable L4 autonomy within the specific domain of Chandler. The current passengers for this test are Waymo employees, however, so it’s not as if the Alphabet-owned company is throwing caution to the wind; instead, it’s showing that it’s ready to move to the next major phase of operations after around a decade of working on this incredibly complex problem.
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