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Waymo pulls engineer from driver's seat on public roads

07 November 2017

Waymo recently hosted a number of journalists at its private Castle testing compound, and treated us to rides with no safety driver behind the wheel - now, the former Google self-driving vehicle company is going farther still, however, launching public road tests of its autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans with no safety driver on board. Passengers will initially be accompanied in the back seat by a Waymo employee, but will eventually travel alone in the robotic vehicle.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik has revealed that the company has been testing its self-driving cars on public roads in Arizona without a human driver since mid-October. It completed its first successful test of a ride-hailing service two years ago, when it ferried a blind man in the Austin, Texas, area, and has since been testing its service with engineers in the front seats of its vehicles. The area that they can drive around in without a human present spreads 100 square miles in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.

The Silicon Valley company is accelerating the competition to bring the first fully autonomous vehicle to market.

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The switch to self-driving vehicles is heralded by automakers and tech companies from Silicon Valley to Detroit as a safety measure on public roads. While self-driving auto companies have routinely tested their vehicles on public roads, they usually have a human sitting behind the wheel ready to take over should the autonomous technology fail.

Watch the driverless cars in action below.

Waymo pulls engineer from driver's seat on public roads