Waymo, which started as the Google self-driving car project in 2009, is ready for the next phase.
Starting now, Waymo’s fully self-driving vehicles are test-driving on public roads, without anyone in the driver’s seat.
And soon, members of the public will get to use these vehicles in their daily lives. To date, Waymo vehicles have been operating on public roads with a test driver at the wheel.
Now, in an area of the Phoenix metro region, a subset of Waymo fleet will operate in fully autonomous mode, with Waymo as the sole driver.
The test without a human in the driver’s seat is a first in the United States as large tech companies, big automakers and well-funded startups race to develop fully autonomous cars.
Waymo is the autonomous vehicle division of Google’s parent company Alphabet. With over eight years of testing under its belt, Waymo is a pioneer of self-driving technology and has tested its system in six states.
The next step for Waymo is a big one: a commercial ride-hail service, in which riders can hail one of the company’s autonomous minivans via an app like Uber or Lyft.