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Robotaxi testing starts in Atlanta by Waymo

Waymo, the self-driving company under Alphabet, expanded its testing and deployment domains by starting to test its robotaxis in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Eltrys reports that Waymo will be sending out a few cars driven by humans in the coming months to collect mapping data and become acquainted with Atlanta’s surroundings, according to a Waymo spokesperson. In the future, Waymo plans to conduct tests of its robotaxis in Atlanta with no safety driver in the front seat.

Similar to other states, Georgia has very limited regulations on AVs. This means that Waymo could potentially deploy fully autonomous vehicles on the roads right now, without a safety driver, as long as it meets the state’s minimum risk requirements.

Waymo has chosen not to provide any information regarding its potential commercial launch in Atlanta or any other cities where it is currently gathering mapping data. In the past month, Waymo initiated the mapping of Washington, D.C., and in November 2023, the company commenced winter testing of robotaxis in Buffalo.

“Our main priority is to expand our Waymo One ride-hailing service in the cities where we operate. We are committed to advancing our autonomous technology by conducting road trips to different cities across the U.S. in a safe and responsible manner,” stated Karp.

Atlanta is the most recent addition to Waymo’s expanding territory, marking another milestone in their recent growth. Last week, Waymo announced the official launch of paid robotaxi rides in Los Angeles. In March, Waymo received approval from California regulators to expand its commercial robotaxi service throughout the San Francisco peninsula and on San Francisco freeways. This development now allows Waymo to offer rides to San Francisco International Airport. Since November 2022, Waymo has provided transportation services to and from Phoenix’s airport. They have recently expanded their offerings to include convenient curbside drop-off and pickup options.

Waymo also began offering driverless rides to employees in Austin in March and intends to make the service available to the general public later this year.

Waymo’s recent successes bring to mind Cruise’s heightened activity in the previous year. In August 2023, Cruise announced the commencement of data collection in Atlanta, as well as in Seattle, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and other cities. Cruise has also started testing its robotaxis in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Miami, as well as running a limited robotaxi service in Phoenix.

An incident in San Francisco on October 2 abruptly halted Cruise’s expansion plans. This incident resulted in suspended permits and a decision to ground the entire fleet. Cruise is currently working on regaining its permits in the state, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

There are notable differences between Waymo and Cruise. Cruise has come under fire for its robotaxis experiencing malfunctions on public roads, causing disruptions to traffic, public transit, and emergency services. Although the company and its technology are not flawless, Waymo has received praise for its cautious approach and minimal mishaps.

In February, Waymo issued a software recall for its robotaxi fleet following two vehicle collisions with a towed pickup truck in Phoenix back in December. In June 2023, a Waymo robotaxi unfortunately collided with and fatally injured a dog.

Juliet P.
Author: Juliet P.

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