The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has granted Waymo the first permit in the state to begin driverless testing on public roads.
This permit is the result of new DMV regulations that took effect in April, which allow companies to apply for fully driverless testing within carefully defined limits, and is the product of nearly ten years of testing in California by Waymo’s team. It’s the first time that California has allowed tests on public roads of fully driverless cars ― that is, without a test driver sitting in the driver’s seat.
Fully driverless testing is the latest step in the path Waymo has been on since 2009, when the company first began working on self-driving technology at Google. Since then Waymo has driven over ten million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities. California will join Waymo's driverless testing program that’s already been happening in Phoenix, Arizona since last year.
Waymo’s test cars will be driving in parts of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto.
Waymo’s permit includes day and night testing on city streets, rural roads and highways with posted speed limits of up to 65 miles per hour. Waymo says its vehicles can handle fog and light rain, and testing in those conditions is permitted.
If a Waymo vehicle comes across a situation it doesn’t understand, it comes to a safe stop until it does understand how to proceed. That means following protocols, which include contacting Waymo fleet and rider support for help in resolving the issue.
The first driverless rides will be for members of the Waymo team. Eventually, the company will create opportunities for members of the public to experience this technology.