Waymo Jaguar I-PaceEnlarge Photo
Waymo is on track to become the first with a commercial self-driving taxi service.
The service is due to start this year in Phoenix, Arizona and will cover an area of 100 square miles. Importantly, the cars within this geofenced area will be able to operate autonomously 100 percent of the time.
The information was revealed by Waymo chief John Krafcik at last week's New York auto show, where he also revealed that Waymo would source 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric cars for its self-driving taxi service.
“Members of the public will be able to take our cars anywhere in our service area,” Krafcik told media at the show, including The New York Times. “We will be driving everywhere—dense, urban centers, high-speed roads, low-speed roads, suburbs; there’s every driving scenario to be imagined.”
John KrafcikEnlarge Photo
Waymo, formerly the Google Self-Driving Car Project, remains undeterred by last month's crash in Tempe, Arizona in which a woman crossing a road was fatally hit by an Uber self-driving car. Krafcik said that Waymo's self-driving cars would have spotted the woman and avoided the crash.
Waymo has a fleet of 600 self-driving cars testing in 25 cities across the United States. The company has racked up more than five million miles, which is more than any other company by a significant margin.
Waymo also tests its technology in traffic situations based on actual crashes, using a closed-off track in California. The company has also run computer simulations equivalent to five billion miles of testing, with much tougher conditions than you'd normally find in real life.
Other leaders in the self-driving space include General Motors, which in January unveiled a self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV devoid of a steering wheel and pedals. GM's plan is to start running the cars on public roads in late 2019. Ford is also delivering pizzas across Miami using Fusion sedans equipped with the company's own self-driving technology, while Nissan has a handful of self-driving Leaf electric cars ferrying passengers on a set route between the company's headquarters in Tokyo and a nearby shopping center.