Waymo, the very famous autonomous vehicle division of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has recently launched cars on public roads in the Phoenix metropolitan area with no one behind the wheel (not even a safety driver). Starting very soon, the company is planning to invite regular people for trying their self-driving vehicles.
As of now, a Waymo employee will remain in the vehicle, however, instead of being in the front seat, he/she will most likely sit behind the driver’s seat. Also, currently the company has geofenced their vehicle’s reach within a 100 square mile area in the town of Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix which Waymo says that it is going to expand soon as its cars collect more data and conduct more number of trips. At present, only members of Waymo’s Early Rider program which started since last April, will be able to experience the all-new self-driving cars.
This move will certainly boost the confidence of Waymo and other organization aiming into the field of self-driving cars and gain Level 4 autonomy, in which a vehicle is capable of driving itself, with no human behind the wheel, in most environments and road conditions, as the ultimate goal.
The company is manufacturing its own sensors and hardware to reduce dependence on suppliers. Also, it has partnered with various companies like Fiat-Chrysler, Lyft, and Avis for their other requirements.
According to Krafcik, it is the most advanced vehicle they have developed to date. Its combination of extremely powerful sensors, coupled with lasers and radars gives their vehicles a 360-degree view and can see underneath and around the vehicle for objects that are usually hidden from the human eye.
Waymo has announced that its first commercial product will a driverless taxi-hailing service which will allow customers to book one of the company’s minivan via an app similar to Uber or Lyft.