Waymo expands robotaxi operations to Austin

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Waymo – the self-driving technology firm under Google-owner Alphabet – is set to launch its Waymo One service in Austin, marking the latest expansion of its robotaxi operations.

Following successful ventures in Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Waymo’s move into the Texas capital underscores its ambition to establish itself as a leader in autonomous transportation.

Announced in August 2023, Austin was designated as the fourth city for Waymo One and the company has since been diligently testing its autonomous vehicles to ensure safety and efficiency on the city’s roads. Today will see the commencement of fully autonomous testing, a significant step towards eventual commercial operations.

Throughout 2023, Waymo focused on rigorous testing to fine-tune its technology, aiming to operate without the need for human drivers. The company highlights the adaptability of its systems to new environments, a crucial aspect as it expands its reach beyond its initial testing grounds.

Covering an extensive area of 43 square miles, Waymo’s testing in Austin encompasses key districts such as downtown, Barton Hills, Riverside, East Austin, and Hyde Park. The company has a history with the city, having conducted the world’s first fully driverless ride on public roads back in 2016 using its Firefly prototype.

Initial rides in Waymo’s autonomous fleet will be reserved for its employees, offering them a firsthand experience of the innovative technology powering these electric Jaguar I-Pace vehicles. Waymo has also provided insights into the vehicle’s perception of its surroundings, giving passengers a glimpse into the sophisticated sensor systems guiding their journey.

In addition to its Austin expansion, Waymo recently secured regulatory approval to broaden its operations in the San Francisco Peninsula and Los Angeles. However, one of its vehicles in San Francisco was set on fire by a mob of around 20 individuals last month.

Despite celebrating one million miles of autonomous operations without a fatality in early 2023, Waymo has faced twenty “contact incidents,” half of which involved human drivers colliding with its vehicles.

(Image Credit: Waymo)

See also: Self-driving shuttle arrives in Sunderland

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