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Waymo is now testing its robotaxis on the streets of San Francisco

Waymo has been testing its robotaxis in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area since December 2018.

waymo self driving taxi
Image: Waymo

Waymo is expanding its robotaxi testing, with employees volunteering to be test riders in a new city, San Francisco. This pilot test will give the company the data it needs to tackle urban self-driving vehicles when the company rolls the service out publically at some point in the future.

Waymo has been testing its robotaxis in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area since December 2018, which is perfect for initial tests as the local geography is fairly uniform. San Francisco is a whole different animal, with rapid elevation changes, quirky streets, highways, bike lanes, trams, and lots of pedestrians. This will be a real test of Waymo’s Driver software, showing any issues and providing valuable training data for its autopilot system.

The company also offered some more stats on its self-driving fleet of Chrysler Pacificas and Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs. Collectively, they’ve driven 20 billion simulated miles, and 20 million street miles across 25 cities since the program’s inception. That’s over 40 round-trips to the moon!

The really impressive part of this information dump to me is that in 629,000 miles of autonomous driving on US roads throughout 2020, Waymo’s system has only had 21 times when the human safety driver had to take the wheel to avoid a mishap. That’s not good enough for mass adoption of autonomous vehicles though, so Waymo has added dedicated cameras to spot things like jaywalkers to avoid issues in the future.

San Francisco may be next on the roadmap, but Waymo seems to be planning a longer road trip, with mapping freeways around Los Angeles, testing vehicles on Florida’s highway corridors, and expanding pilot tests to various other regions all planned for the future. Other possible expansions include Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and Ohio.

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