Advances in science and technology have ensured that self-driving cars are less of a pipe dream and something that may hit the roads in the near future. There are, of course, a lot of wrinkles to be smoothened out before self-driving cars become the norm. However, autonomous vehicles are no longer science fiction, thanks to the efforts of players such as Tesla and Waymo.
Waymo has been known to test self-driving vehicles in New York and San Francisco, and now, it says that it is ready to remove safety drivers from its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco.
Waymo claims that its cars have driven more than 20 billion miles in simulation and over 20 million miles on public roads. This also comes nearly six months after it kicked off its Waymo One Trusted Tester program.
The same enables several people (hundreds of volunteer San Franciscans, according to Waymo) in San Francisco to hail autonomous rides (for free) using its Jaguar electric I-PACE vehicles. At that time, safety drivers were behind the wheel, but this might change now, as Waymo feels confident to remove them from the vehicles.
Regarding the latest development, Waymo did not give any details as to when its driverless vehicle services will hit the roads for us to hail and use. According to Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana, this will mark “a major step on our path to deploying a fully autonomous commercial service.”
“We’re now ready to begin introducing the Waymo Driver in fully autonomous mode — with no specialist behind the wheel,” he said in a blog post.
Of course, this was helped by the feedback received from the Waymo One Trusted Tester program. The same feedback helped the company make adjustments, such as “careful improvements to our braking patterns” to handle the city’s many four-way stops more smoothly and how to more comfortably drive the city’s “many steep” hills.