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Waymo Testing Driverless Ride-Hailing Service on Public Roads

10 November 2017

While Arizona hasn't got much in the way of self-driving auto regulation, which makes it great for early tests, it will take a while until we start using the Waymo taxi service anywhere else.

While self-driving auto companies test their vehicles in public, they routinely have a human in the driver's seat ready to take over if the technology fails.

Last week, US auto retailer AutoNation Inc. announced a multiyear partnership for vehicle maintenance and repairs for Waymo's self-driving car operations. The cars will still have steering wheels, so they won't be the Level 5 autonomous vehicles it's working towards. Until now, "early riders" who have hailed their self-driving minivan using an app have always had a human test driver in the vehicle. As the program grows more popular, expect to see it expand to cover an area "the size of Greater London".

Waymo says it has conducted thousands of tests on private tracks and public roads since 2009, including 20,000 unique trials that put the autonomous MPVs through "rare and unusual cases".

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The company will initially introduce these truly driverless cars in a part of the Phoenix metro area called Chandler, which the company picked because it has a simpler road system than a busier city like, say, San Francisco.

Abuelsamid added that Waymo chose Phoenix because Waymo is aware its system isn't ready for inclement weather like rain, snow or sleet.

The company is also getting ready to initiate its first commercial driverless taxi service.

Waymo is also signaling one of its potential business models for self-driving cars, in the form of a car-share service.

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In the release, Waymo says it will use MI unpredictable winters to "gain additional cold weather experience on public roads" as it fully tests its self-driving systems in different conditions.

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 latest being MI.

In its safety report, Waymo details the procedures behind each of its different tests for its technology.

Waymo was officially christened as a standalone company back in December of 2016. The company did not say whether it was testing the driverless cars in environments considered challenging for autonomous vehicles, like bridges or tunnels, or more hard conditions, like driving at night or in rain and snow - usually not a big concern in the dry Phoenix climate. The minivans doubled Google's fleet at the time, and were built with Google's software at the automaker's Windsor, Ontario, Canada plant.

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Waymo Testing Driverless Ride-Hailing Service on Public Roads