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Waymo to offer public trials for its self-driving minivans – CNET

A number of companies are currently testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, but very few are offering the public a chance to experience these vehicles. That’s where Waymo comes in.

Waymo has opened up its early rider program to residents in the Phoenix, Arizona area. The program will see “hundreds” of people given access to Waymo’s fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Participants can call on them for whatever they need, whenever they need it — no matter if it’s a grocery run, taking the kids to soccer practice or just heading over to a friend’s.

While the program is public knowledge now, Waymo was operating a smaller pilot program unbeknownst to anyone. For the last two months, Waymo let a select few Phoenix residents make use of the autonomous Chrysler Pacificas. Since that seemed to be a success, it’s expanding to include more members of the public.

waymo-public-trials-2.jpg2016 disengagement report, wherein it outlines all the times a human had to take control of its self-driving cars in California, Waymo reported just 0.20 disengagements per 1,000 miles. The company drove over 635,000 autonomous miles, and its systems disengaged just 124 times.

The only other company to really get the public involved with its autonomous development is Uber. The ride-sharing outfit offered Arizonans rides in its Volvo XC90 development cars, and it briefly did so in California, as well. However, a kerfuffle over permits led Uber’s autonomous cars to leave The Golden State briefly, only to return under the condition that they won’t pick up regular passengers.

Waymo to offer public trials for its self-driving minivans – CNET

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