Waymo has announced plans to test its fifth-generation autonomous driver on the Jaguar I-PACE platform in Austin, Texas.

These trials will be conducted over the next few months across central and East Austin, including downtown, Rainey Street, Clarksville, Bouldin Creek, the Market District, Holly and the Capitol.

Waymo Austin
There are now 30% more people living in metro Austin compared to Waymo’s previous operations

On 20 October 2015, Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, became the first person to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle with no human driver. This milestone was completed in Waymo’s Firefly prototype vehicle on residential streets in Austin.

Since then, tens of thousands of people have experienced riding in fully autonomous vehicles, and Waymo One has launched its ride-hailing services to the public in Phoenix and San Francisco.

Now, Waymo plans to return to Austin to roll out its technology in a greater number of cities. The company intends to learn as much as possible from Austin’s busy and rapidly expanding diverse neighbourhoods.

Nathaniel Fairfield, Software Engineer at Waymo, who helped lead the team that made that delivered the first Firefly ride in Austin, said:

A lot of the experiences you encounter on Austin’s roads are useful for what we’re already doing in San Francisco and Phoenix. All three are fast-changing cities with busy downtowns that host a ton of live events.

But there’s also a uniquely Austin flavour – not just the pedicabs, or the bats and all the squirrels, but the pedestrian traffic on The Drag, navigating weekend traffic around Sixth Street, or the way the road layouts change between neighbourhoods.

Waymo has driven in dozens of cities to work on improving the Waymo Driver. For example, by testing in a range of weather conditions in Miami, New York City and Bellevue, it has improved its driving capabilities in heavier rain.


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