Waymo's fully self-driving cars are here

Waymo's fully self-driving cars are here

In a speech at the Lisbon Web Summit on Tuesday, Waymo CEO John Krafick said, "We recently surveyed 3,000 adults across the USA, asking them when they expected to see self-driving vehicles - ones without a person in the driver's seat - on their roads". Neither Krafcik nor the company's reps shared exactly what has given the company the confidence to declare their vehicles "fully" self-driving, but it appears that Waymo has achieved Level 4 autonomy, which means the auto can handle every aspect of the driving experience on its own without need for human intervention.

"To have a vehicle on public roads without a person at the wheel, we've built some unique safety features into this minivan".

With numerous companies clamoring to conquer the burgeoning autonomous vehicle market - among them both Silicon Valley firms like Waymo and manufacturers like BMW, Honda and Ford - the change unveiled by Mr Krafcik could help Waymo separate from the pack.

Waymo chief executive John Krafcik used the Web Summit in Lisbon to announce a portion of its fleet in the Phoenix area will operate in fully autonomous mode with the cars handling all the driving.

Over the next few months, we'll be inviting members of the public to take trips in our fully self-driving vehicles. "Our system runs thousands of checks on itself every second". And though it will only be rolling out one city at a time, it seems safe to say that this is the future, for better or worse.

In the year since it spun off from Google, Waymo has moved aggressively to test its cars on public roads.

Phoenix has very consistent sunny weather and wide roads.

A self-driving electric shuttle built by Navya was tested early this year in Las Vegas in a USA first and will start a regular route there on Wednesday, the company told AFP. Over time, we'll cover a region that's larger than the size of Greater London, and we'll add more vehicles as we grow. Eventually it will go to whole metro area.

At first, those passengers will be accompanied in the back seat by a Waymo employee, but eventually they will travel alone, although they will be able to hit a button to stop the vehicle.

The company said it has been testing its autonomous systems for the past eight years with more than 5 million miles logged on public roads.

Instances of people being killed in accidents involving self-driving cars will likely increase, argued Nidhi Kalra, leader author on a new study looking at self-driving safety.

Waymo is hoping to infuse its technology into ride-hailing services such as its current partner, Lyft, and big-rig trucking companies.

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