There are many companies testing self-driving cars in the United States and elsewhere. However, all of them have a human driver behind the wheel at all times to take over should something go wrong. Waymo, the self-driving division owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has become the first company to test autonomous driving cars without a human behind the wheel in the United States.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik has revealed that the company has been testing its self-driving cars on public roads in Arizona without a human driver since mid-October. He revealed this during a conference in Lisbon, Portugal today.
The company is now planning to invite people to take a ride in these fully autonomous cars that don’t have a driver behind the wheel. That’s certainly going to be an unnerving experience for someone who has never been in a self-driving car before.
Despite there being no driver behind the wheel, a Waymo employee will remain in the vehicle at all times. The employee won’t be in the driver’s seat and will probably sit behind the driver’s seat.
These cars won’t be able to go wherever they want in Arizona. The area that they can drive around in without a human present spreads 100 square miles in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. Waymo is eventually going to expand the area beyond that as it collects more data and continues to improve the system.
Only those who are members of Waymo’s Early Rider program will be allowed to experience these fully autonomous cars.