Waymo's autonomous cars don't need humans in the driver's seat anymore

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"Getting access will be as easy as using an app; just tap a button and Waymo will come to you, and take you where you want to go".

Last week, USA auto retailer AutoNation Inc announced a multiyear partnership for vehicle maintenance and repairs for Waymo's self-driving car operations.

As The Verge reports, Waymo, the self-driving vehicle company owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has been letting autonomous cars rush over the roads of Arizona without someone in the driver's seat since the middle of last month.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said in October the company aims to take the driver out of its self-driving vehicles "in quarters, not years".

"Over time, we'll expand to cover the entire Phoenix region - an area much larger than Greater London", said Krafcik.

Since Waymo began as a project in Google's "moonshot" lab in 2009, its vehicles have logged more than 5.6 million kilometres of autonomous driving on USA roads, according to the company.

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"Starting now, Waymo's fully self-driving vehicles - our safest, most advanced vehicles on the road today - are test-driving on public roads, without anyone in the driver's seat".

In a speech at the Lisbon Web Summit on Tuesday, Waymo CEO John Krafick said, "We recently surveyed 3,000 adults across the U.S., asking them when they expected to see self-driving vehicles - ones without a person in the driver's seat - on their roads".

Within a "few months", the fully autonomous vans will begin carrying volunteer passengers who are now taking part in a Phoenix-area test that includes use of backup drivers.

If you're driving in Chandler, look at the auto next to you and you may see a self-driving vehicle. The company picked Phoenix because weather conditions are ideal for testing with no snow and little rain, he said, adding that Waymo knows its system isn't ready yet for inclement weather even with camera, radar and laser sensors.

We commend Waymo on its exciting victory on the self-driving vehicle front that brings the public one step closer to the avant-garde norm of riding in a driverless vehicle. There's also an onboard support system that allows them to talk to a live Waymo support agent at any time.

It's been about eight years since Google publicly kicked off the private sector's race to replace the old-fashioned automobile, and its cautious approach to building a fleet of autonomous taxis appears to be paying off. He ticked off the ways driverless cars could be redesigned if the vehicle didn't need space for a driver: to ferry groceries, as a "personal dining room" or for naps.

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