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article imageWaymo to launch driverless robo-taxis in Arizona

By Tim Sandle     Nov 20, 2017 in Technology
Phoenix - If you’re in Arizona in the near future and require a cab the chances are the vehicle that turns up to take you to your destitution will be without a human behind the wheel. This is in light of Waymo’s plan to introduce an autonomous service.
Waymo is part of the Alphabet corporation and the Arizona project fits in with the group’s wider plans for the rolling out of autonomous vehicles. The idea for Arizona is to launch a so-termed robo-taxi service. If the project succeeds, this would become the first self-driving company in the U.S.
An extra human for safety
In the build-up for the project, Waymo has been steadily testing autonomous minivans on public roads throughout the state. These test trips had a human driver on board in case of accidents. In very free cases was human intervention required. Waymo self-driving vehicles have driven some 3.5 million miles on public roads and 2.5 billion miles in simulation.
Even when the scheme launches in Arizona there will be a human inside the minivan, but only for a short period of time (once sufficient safety data has been accumulated).
As to how the scheme will operate, the following video gives some clues:
According to Waymo’s brief on the subject of self-driving taxis: “After more than eight years of testing and development, we're ready to unlock the potential of fully self-driving technology, so we can make it easier and safer for everyone to get around.”
Baby steps
According to the website Smart2Zero, the minivans will operate within a geofenced 100-square-mile area of the town of Chandler, Arizona to begin with. This town is a suburb of Phoenix. To begin with the taxis will be offered to members of a scheme called the Early Rider Program (for which some people have been identified and have signed-up).
Commenting on the initiative, John Krafcik, who is CEO of Waymo told The Verge: “This is the most advanced vehicle we've developed to date. Everything in it is designed and built for full autonomy. Our combination of powerful sensors gives our vehicles a 360 degree view of the world."
He also added: "The lasers can see objects in three dimensions, up to 300 meters away. We also have short range lasers that stay focused close-up to the side of the vehicle. Our radars can see underneath and around vehicles, tracking moving objects usually hidden from the human eye."
More about autonomous cars, Taxi, Vehicles, waymo
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