Google’s Waymo Is Taking Its Self-Driving Minivans to Atlanta
Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under parent company Alphabet, is taking its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Atlanta.
The company announced Monday it will test its self-driving minivans in metro Atlanta, making it the 25th city that Waymo has tested its autonomous vehicle technology since 2009. Waymo has been testing vehicles in Texas, Arizona, Washington State, Nevada, California and most recently launched winter testing on public roads in Michigan.
Waymo started mapping some parts Atlanta. This means the company is manually driving one of its self-driving minivans equipped with sensors that allow it to build its 3D map.
For now, Waymo is just testing its self-driving vehicles in metro Atlanta; the company isn’t launching its early rider program in the city—at least right now—as it did in Phoenix last April.
“The Atlanta region is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. It’s a major hub for transportation of all kinds, and there’s a lot of potential for self-driving technology in the region,” a Waymo spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Local leaders have shown that they’re committed to innovation and technology, and we’re looking forward to testing in the area.”
In November, Waymo became the first company to deploy fully autonomous vehicles on public roads without a driver behind the wheel. About 100 of the company’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans are now driving around Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix, without a human test driver—a move that catapulted Waymo ahead of its competitors. Waymo has been testing the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans on public roads in Chandler since 2016. But the vehicles have always had a human test driver behind the wheel.
The first users will be part of Waymo’s early rider program that launched in April in the Phoenix area. Waymo plans to launch a driverless commercial service (meaning no human test drivers) this year.