The American group Alphabet, Google’s parent company, gave new impetus to its driverless vehicle program by announcing that it began testing its cars with real passengers.
“We want as many people as possible to experience our technology,” said John Krafcik, chief of Waymo, the group’s affiliate, in a blog announcing customer trials.
Tests had already begun quietly with some passengers in Phoenix, Arizona, but Waymo wants to extend them to other residents of this region.
“During the course of this trial, we will accept hundreds of people with varying profiles and transportation needs, who wish to travel and give their impressions about Waymo’s driverless cars,” explained Krafcik.
“Instead of offering people a trip or two, the goal of this program is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere in an area of up to approximately twice as much San Francisco, “he adds.
Waymo hopes to learn “where people want to go in a car without a driver, how they communicate with [their] vehicles, and what information and commands they want to have inside them.”
Although, finally, the objective is that the vehicles are totally autonomous, for these first tests a Waymo engineer will travel sitting in the driver’s place to supervise the operation.
Waymo said that for now he will accept “a limited number” of passengers, but he wants to extend the program over the course of the year. In parallel, the company will expand its fleet of test cars with a large order of 500 Pacifica additional to the automaker Fiat-Chrysler