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Waymo Adds Atlanta to Its Growing List of Robotaxi Test Cities

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 19, 2024
Waymo Adds Atlanta to Its Growing List of Robotaxi Test Cities

Waymo Adds Atlanta to Its Growing List of Robotaxi Test Cities

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle division of Alphabet, has initiated robotaxi testing in Atlanta, reflecting its ongoing expansion into new urban territories for its autonomous vehicle operations. This move into Atlanta follows the company’s recent commencement of paid robotaxi services in Los Angeles and the extension of its commercial service across the San Francisco Peninsula.

Mapping Atlanta: Waymo’s Initial Steps

To kickstart its operations in Atlanta, Waymo will initially deploy a small number of vehicles to be manually driven by humans. This phase is focused on collecting mapping data and acclimating to the local environment, according to Waymo spokesperson Sandy Karp.

The next phase will see Waymo testing its robotaxis without safety drivers, leveraging Georgia’s lenient regulations on autonomous vehicles (AVs), which permit the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads under minimal risk conditions.

While Waymo has not disclosed any plans for a commercial launch in Atlanta or other cities where it is currently mapping, the company is strategic about enhancing its autonomous technology and scaling the Waymo One ride-hailing service.

Recent developments include Waymo’s authorization in March to expand its robotaxi service to include a route to San Francisco International Airport, along with offering curbside pick-up and drop-off at Phoenix’s airport since November 2022. Furthermore, in Austin, Waymo began providing driverless rides to employees this March, with plans to extend these services to the public later in the year.

Waymo’s growth is paralleled by activities from Cruise, another major player in the autonomous vehicle industry. In contrast to Waymo’s cautious approach, Cruise has aggressively expanded into multiple cities, including Atlanta, where initial data collection began last August. However, Cruise’s expansion was disrupted by a recent incident in San Francisco on October 2nd, which resulted in suspended permits and the temporary grounding of its fleet by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Despite these advancements and expansions, Waymo has faced challenges of its own. Notably, the company had to recall the software powering its robotaxi fleet in February after two incidents where vehicles crashed into the same towed pickup truck in Phoenix in December. Additionally, a Waymo robotaxi was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of a dog in June 2023.

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Featured Image courtesy of Noah Densmore via Getty Images/iStockphoto

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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