As technology companies and automakers race to be the first to introduce a mass-market driverless vehicle, Waymo is taking a significant step toward an autonomous future. Waymo, the self-driving car subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, has announced it is now accepting applications to be a part of the company’s beta testing in Phoenix, Arizona.
The tests will put human passengers in a fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacificas, and the initiative wants as many early riders as it can get its hands on to further develop its technology to suit the needs of passengers. Waymo is making it clear that this isn’t a one or two ride deal. It wants to offer testers a ride anywhere, anytime, and every day. Don’t book your next family vacation on Waymo, though, as the driverless minivans will only operate in a described area of “twice the size of San Fransisco.”
To fulfill the expected demand, Waymo also announced it will add another 500 self-driving Pacificas to its fleet, bringing the total to 600 vehicles. Over eight years, Waymo has been working to teach its vehicles the advanced driving skills it needs and the 500 additional vehicles will provide crucial data for continued development.
This, of course, is occurring amid a tense relationship with competitor Uber. Alphabet and Uber remain locked in an ongoing legal battle after Alphabet accused the popular ride-sharing service of stealing its technology and infringing on patents. Specifically, Uber is accused of stealing Waymo’s custom lidar system to help driverless vehicles “see,” so to speak.
If you’re ready to let robocars take the wheel, you can head to the link here to apply. As the video shows, it could make your life easier, though perhaps less interesting.