Waymo trains self-driving cars to identify emergency vehicles
Each and every day, Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo self-driving car subsidiary sees its fleet of autonomous vehicles drive a combined distance of 25,000 miles—and the mileage is even higher when counting simulated miles.
The company shared its latest achievement on Friday, when it also revealed that the self-driving car fleet has reached 8.0 million miles on public roads. CEO John Krafcik touted the numbers on stage with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval at the National Governors Association conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Perhaps most importantly, Waymo hasn't seen any major crash or wreck come from the millions of miles, unlike rival Uber. One of Uber's self-driving vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March, which has since led the company to ground its fleet of self-driving cars. Arizona also banned the company from completing any further self-driving vehicle tests on its roads.
Waymo plans to bring a self-driving taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona later this year, and its latest milestones show the company is nearing the service's launch.
In addition to the 8.0 million miles in real life, Waymo's self-driving cars have also traveled over 5.0 billion miles in simulated miles. The technology is able to run through scenarios self-driving cars encounter in real life and practice how to handle them in simulation, all while gaining more experience. The company said the 5.0 billion miles is the equivalent of 25,000 self-driving cars operating every day.
Ahead of its official self-driving car service, Waymo launched its early riders program in Arizona. The program has been crucial in providing feedback for the company from individuals using the self-driving cars for everyday errands. Currently, 400 people take part in the program but more than 20,000 have applied.
Waymo has ordered more than 80,000 vehicles, most of them Chrysler Pacificas but also Jaguar I-Paces, to add to its self-driving car fleet ahead of deployment in multiple cities across the United States. The company is also planning to add more as it prepares to enter Europe.
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 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.