Waymo cars hit the the road without drivers

  • Waymo cars hit the the road without drivers

Waymo cars hit the the road without drivers

According to Ars Technica, Waymo CEO John Krafcik will announce the news today during a speech he's giving at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. But instead of being in the front seat, that employee will likely sit behind the driver's seat.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said in October the company aims to take the driver out of its self-driving vehicles "in quarters, not years".

Krafcik said a Waymo service will arrive soon, allowing people to hail the cars with a mobile app, similar to services like Uber and Lyft.

The rides will initially have to stick within a defined 100-square-mile area near Phoenix.

Waymo, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet, said members of the public will begin riding in its fleet of modified Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivans outfitted with self-driving technology in the next few months. "Our system runs thousands of checks on itself every second". It will be good for the old and the young, the blind and blotto, and save lives in the process, by starting to remove fallible humanity from the highway equation, boosters say.

To date, Waymo has conducted 3.5m miles on U.S. public roads in a variety of scenarios. The company picked Phoenix because weather conditions are ideal for testing with no snow and little rain, he said, adding that Waymo knows its system isn't ready yet for inclement weather even with camera, radar and laser sensors. The company has certainly been testing self-driving cars on public roads longer than the broader tech and auto industries, and it has access to Google's machine engineering talent, making it a formidable competitor to companies with decades of car-building experience.

But this latest move will greatly increase the ambition, and risk, of Waymo's technology - it will eventually cover an area the size of Greater London, the company said. Vehicles developed by rival Uber - which is locked in a bitter legal fight with Waymo over the technology - has covered more than a million miles and allowed Pittsburgh residents to hitch rides in autonomous vehicles spinning through the Pennsylvania city's streets.

In a video Waymo published, riders are shown entering the vehicle and tapping a "Start ride" button after they are strapped in. The stakes are so high that Waymo is now suing ride-hailing company Uber, alleging that one of its former managers stole its trade secrets and took them with him when he joined Uber in 2016 as part of an elaborate scheme. In a blog post, the company announced that what you see in that video is what you'll be seeing pull up next to you at a traffic light.

Waymo employees will be the first to test the fully automated rides.