Public can test-drive Google self-driven cars now

By Sricharan R Published on Apr 27, 2017 02:56 PM IST

Ever since Google said they are making driverless car into a reality, there has been huge expectation on how and when it will be on the roads.

The search assistant company has just done that now. The company is now letting people use its driverless car service for any ride at any time. The company's sister firm, Waymo, has created a free early rider programme in Phoenix, Arizona.

Waymo has equipped a fleet of 500 minivans with its self-driving technology to handle ride requests.

The move brings technology a step closer to becoming a day-to-day reality and coincides with efforts by other entrants into the fast-emerging field who are rapidly expanding the number of autonomous vehicles now on public roads.

The pilot programme could cement Waymo's position as a leader in the technology while also giving a big boost to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the automaker that will now provide another 500 Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans for use in the Arizona project.

The company said testers could ride any time across a test zone. The test is the first, large-scale public trial of a driverless car system ever in the world. This test when become success will make a huge impact on the cab industry. In recent times, there is a lot of news that many lose jobs due to automation and digitisation. This new tech will lay off millions of cab drivers across the globe.

The cars will not be entirely autonomous, and a test driver will be behind the wheel to take control in event of problems or collisions.

Google's Waymo has been one of the most aggressive developers of autonomous car driving technology and services. The company's robot cars have now driven more than 2.5 million miles on public roads without human help. It is noted that these cars have also been involved in 14 collisions while logging those miles.

As well as fitting out existing cars with sensing and navigation systems, Waymo has also developed its own small, two-seater vehicles. The news of the test project comes a day after the UK announced plans to get driverless cars tested on public roads and motorways by 2019.

It also comes as Wall Street Journal revealed Amazon has been working on autonomous car services for more than 12 months.

If driverless car technology is going to make transportation more efficient and, one hopes, more environmentally-sustainable, then understanding and adapting to the needs of these kinds of customers would certainly make a bigger dent than helping tech bros get to and from events downtown.