Waymo, the autonomous vehicle division of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), has revealed that it has been operating autonomous vehicles on public roads in Arizona without a safety driver behind the wheel, since mid October.
This is huge news for driverless car fans as it introduces us to Level 4 autonomy. Level 4 autonomy is where a vehicle can drive itself with no human behind the wheel ‘in most environments and road conditions’. Level 4 is the second to last level for fully automated vehicles.
As with any testing there are a few limitations…
- A Waymo employee is in the vehicle but not in the drivers seat although Waymo has stated that in the future there will be no driver at all.
- The cars do not have full access to all of Arizona’s roads. They have been geofenced into a 100sq mile are of a town called Chandler in Phoenix.
Waymo is certainly leading the way it seems for automated vehicles and recently released its first safety report which details it’s testing has involved 3.5 million miles driven on public roads and 2.5 billion miles driven in simulation. Incredible statistics when you think about it.
Their next steps are to increase the geographic area in which the vehicles operate and to begin testing with actual residents (they’ve currently been testing with employees). This will be the real test and when we start to hear genuine feedback from people not linked to Waymo.
Watch the video below from Waymo detailing their progress.