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Waymo Driverless Taxis Ditch the “Safety Driver” In San Francisco

Waymo taxi driving in SF, California

Waymo has been working on its autonomous rideshare Robo-taxis for nearly a decade, and earlier this year finally received approval to drive on the streets of San Francisco. Now, the Google spinoff company is ready to go fully driverless.

Starting this week, Waymo is offering rides in its autonomous vehicles without human safety drivers behind the wheel, according to its latest blog post. Previously, the company had permission to operate in select regions, but the vehicle still had a “safety driver” ready to take control if necessary.

Today, an all-electric Jaquar I-PACE electric vehicle took a passenger to work in a fully driverless Waymo car through the streets of San Francisco. This is a big deal considering no one is behind the steering wheel and an even bigger deal that the autonomous software handled the busy streets of California.

However, instead of a safety driver, there’s still a “safety passenger” or a Waymo engineer in the car to keep tabs on everything. Still, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. It’s important to note that Waymo driverless taxis aren’t available to the general public in California like in Arizona, but that’s coming, eventually.

Right now, the program is only available to Waymo’s employees within the city, where they can choose to commute to work in a Waymo taxi. However, as testing continues, the company says it will “soon” expand fully driverless rides to the “Trusted Tester” program. To be a part of the testing in SF, download the Waymo One app.

The end goal is to offer fully autonomous rides to paying consumers in public similar to what Waymo offers in a few cities throughout Arizona already. Along with the announcement that Waymo is going full driverless in San Francisco, the project is expanding to Phoenix, which will start with “safety drivers” and work its way to being fully autonomous.

As you can see, Waymo thinks its vehicles are ready to hit dense, busy, urban streets around the United States. Would you take a ride in a self-driving car?

via The Verge

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »