Waymo, the former Google self-driving company is launching public road tests of its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans, with no safety drivers on board of the vehicles. The test are is in Chandler, Arizona (part of the greater Phoenix metro area), and the cars are allowed to go anywhere within this defined space. This means that Waymo is operating at level 4 autonomy, sharing public roads with human-driven cars and pedestrians, with no one at the wheel to intervene when things may go wrong.
CEO John Krafcik said that Waymo will be operating a fully autonomous ride hailing service without any humans at the wheel, a major first for the industry in terms of realizing the dream of making commercial self-driving available to the public at large.
Residents participating in the trial will also be able to use them exactly as they use the test vehicles with safety chauffeurs today – for any trips within the designated area, whether for commutes, trips to go shopping, heading to school or whatever their transportation needs. They hail the vehicles using a Waymo app, and being the trip onboard with a push of a button. There’s also an onboard support system that allows them to talk to a live Waymo support agent at any time.