The race to develop autonomous vehicles is well and truly on, with Waymo successfully carrying out self-driving tests across the roads of Arizona.
Waymo has confirmed the successful test of its self-driving Fiat Chrysler trials across public roads in Arizona, after eight years of committed development to the technology.
All human input has been taken away within Waymo’s fleet of cars, including having a physical body sat in the driver’s seat in case of an emergency.
The aim of the venture is to make roads safer, commuting less stressful and increase accessibility for everyone including those who are physically unable to drive.
Waymo said: “In short, we’re building our vehicles to be the most experience driver on the road. By giving people access to a fleet of vehicles, rather than starting with a personal ownership model, more people will be able to experience this technology, sooner.”
Following the successful trials of its autonomous vehicles, Waymo has announced it will soon let anyone ‘hop’ into one of its Fiat Chrysler minivans, inviting members of the public to trial the vehicles through a ride-hailing style app.
Competing with the likes of rivals Uber, the service will allow members of the public to commute to work, take children to school or come home from a night out. Initially passengers will be accompanied in the back with a Waymo employee before eventually travelling alone.
Additionally in the early stages of the trials the service will be free to a selected number of trial users, approached by the company, but Waymo has said in the future rides will be charged for using a ride-hailing app however did not specify when this would be.
Moving into the ride hailing scene could cause quite a stir for rivals Uber and even Lyft, as Waymo take the reins in the market.
Uber has already made a stint at self-driving cars in the business after undergoing tests in Pittsburgh for over a year, and another trial in Tempe. However no confirmations of a future delivery of autonomous rid-hailing cars has been announced yet.
Successful trials of autonomous vehicles have been subject to weather conditions as well as technology, as Waymo pointed out the weather across Arizona is predominantly warm and dry. The company is yet to configure technology to cope with coarse conditions such as snow.
Fully autonomous vehicles bring concern to some riders, as it has been speculated that the technology would not recognise a stop sign if it had graffiti on. However, Waymo reassures passengers by equipping each minivan with extra safety features.
These features include back up steering and braking and passengers will also be provided screens in the back of the vehicle that gives them information regarding the area, such as the speed limit.
The company said: “When fully self-driving vehicles become part of people’s everyday routine, we can move closer to our goal of making transportation safe and easy for everyone.”