Alphabet Inc’s (Nasdaq: GOOGL) self-driving platform Waymo said on Monday that it is ready to begin introducing fully driverless rides in San Francisco, California. The firm launched its Trusted Tester program in the city six months ago and, having incorporated the feedback, is now set to go fully autonomous with its Waymo Driver system.
In a letter penned by Co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana, the firm expressed confidence that it was able to install updates on the platform coming from careful improvements with feedback from Trusted Testers.
“[We’re] now ready to begin introducing the Waymo Driver in fully autonomous mode—with no specialist behind the wheel—in the city as a major step on our path to deploying a fully autonomous commercial service,” said Mawakana.
This means riders don’t have to be in the driver seat as the Waymo Driver technology will be in control at all times, in contrast to most autonomous vehicles that need driver assist for possible intervention. Waymo touts this driverless feature where “passengers don’t even need to know how to drive” can use the vehicle.
The update follows the California Public Utilities Commission issuing permits last month to self-driving units of General Motors’ (NYSE: GM) Cruise and Waymo to allow for passenger-serving autonomous vehicles but with safety drivers on board. But they have to still acquire a separate license to start charging fares for fully driverless rides.
According to the firm’s survey, around 94% of San Francisco riders are satisfied with the experience and about 97% “expressed trust” in the technology.
In December 2021, Waymo partnered with Chinese automaker Geely’s electric car brand Zeekr to develop electric vehicles for the self-driving platform.
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