California has been testing driverless vehicles in some shape or form for a while now. But in a first, they will allow testing without a backup driver behind the steering wheel.
Waymo is First to Test Autonomous Cars Without ‘Backup Driver’ in California
Waymo has received a permit to test up to 40 autonomous cars on the streets and highways of California. The vehicles will be allowed to drive day and night, testing in parts of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto. The company hopes to eventually expand testing to more areas in the state.
Like other companies, Waymo has kept a backup driver and engineer on board for safety purposes during testing in California. They feel they are ready to remove the safety net as their cars have logged over ten million autonomous miles across 25 cities while also driving over 7 billion simulated miles. Waymo which is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc (Google’s parent company), has been testing driverless cars since 2009.
Driverless Cars in the Rain and Fog
In a blog post, the company stated “Our vehicles can safely handle fog and light rain, and testing in those conditions is included in our permit. We will gradually begin driverless testing on city streets in a limited territory and, over time, expand the area that we drive in as we gain confidence and experience to expand.”
If you’re looking to take a ride you may have to wait a bit. The company hasn’t announced a start date for testing and the first passengers will members of the Waymo team. The company does have plans to eventually allow members of the public to take rides in their autonomous cars.