Wednesday, October 31, 2018 08:49AM
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The self-driving technology company, Waymo, announced it was given the green light to start testing fully driverless cars in California.
Similar testing is already underway in Arizona.
The designated testing area in California includes parts of Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto and Mountain View.
The company announced the news in a tweet on Tuesday, reading in part, “Waymo was just granted the first driverless test permit in the state of California.”
The permit by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows the testing on city streets, rural roads and even highways.
“I wouldn’t get in one yet,” Palo Alto resident, Joe Novosel told ABC7 News. “But you know, maybe five years or so I can see myself driving in them if they keep progressing the way they have.”
According to Waymo, its vehicles have driven more than ten-million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities since 2009.
Around the Peninsula today, people can spot the white Waymo vans, noticeably tricked out with technology.
“They really make no attempt at being hidden,” Novosel added.” They definitely like being seen with their logo white vans and all the crazy sensors that they have sticking off the top.”
“Waymo, by my outside observation of the industry, is certainly among the most advanced companies in this,” Sven Beiker told ABC7 News. Beiker is the managing director of Silicon Valley Mobility.
He says the permit will create a world of possibilities, like mobility options for seniors, those with disabilities or anyone unable to operate a vehicle themselves.
Beiker said testing will also allow developers to understand where the driverless technology is needed most. One possibility, he said, is late night bus rides and the option of having a bus drive from destination to destination on its own.
“The exciting thing is, we don’t really know what it might generate,” Beiker said. “I mean, think about the internet. Who would’ve thought what the internet enables.”
Beiker also addressed concern from consumers.
“The reason can be that we don’t have full knowledge. It could also be that we do have knowledge, and know that things can happen,” he explained. “Because after all, driving is a dangerous undertaking.”
Waymo announced the first driverless rides will be for members of the Waymo team. Eventually, the company will create opportunities for members of the public to experience the technology, as they’ve done in Arizona with its early rider program.
The California DMV has a list of accidents involving self-driving vehicles. To see the list, go here.