Waymo testing self-driving cars without human safety monitor

Waymo testing self-driving cars without human safety monitor
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Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, has started to test fully autonomous cars on public roads.

Since October, Waymo has been testing fully autonomous cars on roads in and around Phoenix without a safety driver, unlike other companies who have been conducting their tests on predetermined routes or on a demo track.

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“Fully self-driving cars are here,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said at Web Summit in Lisbon on Tuesday, where he announced the new milestone.

“Our ultimate goal is to bring our fully self-driving technology to more cities in the U.S. and around the world,” Krafcik continued.

The company says that over the next few months it will begin to offer self-driving car rides to members of the public in Phoenix as it expands its testing of the technology.

"By giving people access to a fleet of vehicles, rather than starting with a personal ownership model, more people will be able to experience this technology, sooner,” Waymo said in a blog post explaining its rollout model. “A fully self-driving fleet can offer new and improved forms of sharing: it’ll be safer, more accessible, more flexible, and you can use your time and space in the vehicle doing what you want.”

Waymo’s announcement is the latest move in the race between other firms such as Uber, Tesla and Lyft, who are all competing to progress their own self-driving car technology.

In Congress, efforts to ease regulatory restrictions that allow driverless cars have been moving forward — in September the House passed legislation on the matter. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee reached a deal to approve of the legislation later that month, and it’s now waiting to be taken up by the Senate for a vote.