Waymo obtains driverless car testing permit in California
Waymo said it will begin testing in Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Sunnyvale
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has issued a permit to Waymo authorizing the company to test driverless vehicles on public roads, including freeways, highways and streets in some parts of California.
The company said that tests will be carried out in the cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Sunnyvale, in Santa Clara County.
While Waymo has held a permit to test autonomous vehicles with a driver since 2014, the new permit will allow the company to test a fleet of about three dozen test vehicles without drivers.
“California has been working toward this milestone for several years, and we will continue to keep the public’s safety in mind as this technology evolves,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto.
Under state law established in 2012, the DMV is required to adopt regulations covering both the testing and public use of autonomous vehicles on California roadways. Regulations to allow testing with a safety driver took effect on September 16, 2014.
Regulations to allow testing without a driver and deployment of autonomous vehicles in the state were adopted and took effect in early April of this year.
The DMV said that Waymo is the first firm to receive a permit of this kind in California. However, 60 manufacturers are currently permitted to test autonomous vehicles in California with a safety driver.
The DMV noted that manufacturers who want to receive a driverless testing permit must certify they meet a number of safety, insurance and vehicle registration requirements, including:
-Providing evidence of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million.
-Verifying that vehicles are capable of operating without a driver and meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and is a Level 4 or 5 vehicle as outlined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
-Confirming that vehicles have been tested under controlled conditions that simulate the planned area of operation.
-Notifying local governments of planned testing in the area.
-Continuously monitoring the status of test vehicles and providing two-way communication with any passengers.
-Training remote operators on the technology being tested.
DMV also said that driverless testing permit holders must report any collisions involving a driverless test vehicle within 10 days and submit an annual report of disengagements.
“Fully driverless testing is the latest step in the path Waymo has been on since 2009, when we first began working on self-driving technology at Google. Since then we’ve driven over ten million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities. California will join our driverless testing program that’s already been happening in Phoenix, Arizona since last year,” the company said in a statement.
Waymo said its permit includes day and night testing on city streets, rural roads and highways with posted speed limits of up to 65 miles per hour.
“Our vehicles can safely handle fog and light rain, and testing in those conditions is included in our permit,” it said. “We will gradually begin driverless testing on city streets in a limited territory and, over time, expand the area that we drive in as we gain confidence and experience to expand.”
Waymo is an Alphabet subsidiary, which originated as a Google project.