Waymo, the standalone unit of Alphabet Inc. GOOGL,
said Monday it was ready to introduce a fully self-driving service in San Francisco.
“We are now ready to begin introducing the Waymo Driver in fully autonomous mode – without a specialist behind the wheel – in the city as a major step on our way to rolling out a fully autonomous commercial service,” said the co-director. General of Waymo, Tekedra Mawakana. said in a blog post.
Last August, Waymo launched a test program that offered free self-driving taxi rides in its electric vehicles to select users in San Francisco, with safety drivers behind the wheel. This program involved “hundreds” of volunteer passengers, Waymo said.
Mawakana said the tests helped Waymo adjust how its cars drive in San Francisco, including “cautious improvements to our braking patterns” to handle the city’s many four-lane stops and how to drive the many more comfortably. steep city hills.
Citing the disturbing number of pedestrians injured and killed by cars in San Francisco last year, Mawakana said Waymo hopes its cars will improve safety on city streets.
He didn’t say when the fully self-contained service will begin, but said more details would be announced in the coming months. It was unclear whether the fully autonomous service would be used for deliveries or as a taxi service.
Earlier this year, Waymo won approval from state regulators to charge for taxi rides in its self-driving cars with a security driver present. But it will require separate approval to charge for fully driverless rides.