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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Waymo Hits 3 Million Self-Driving Miles On Public Roads

Alphabet‘s autonomous vehicle unit Waymo announced that it managed to surpass three million miles of self-driving on public roads throughout the United States. A company representative took to Twitter on Wednesday to boast about that achievement and share a GIF that’s meant to serve as a visual representation of how quickly its autonomous driving research is progressing. Waymo logged no less than one million self-driving miles in the last seven months alone, which is a telling achievement considering the fact that the company was established back in 2009 and has started testing driverless solutions shortly after.

The company has been ramping up its self-driving efforts in recent years and has recently announced its first initiative aimed at serving the general public. As of late April, residents of Phoenix, Arizona, and the surrounding area are able to sign up for Waymo’s autonomous driving program and ride in one of the firm’s 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, 500 of which were ordered specifically for the purposes of launching the new autonomous driving initiative. Everyone interested in trying out the new minivans will be able to do so free of charge, the company said, noting that all participants will be manually approved by its engineers due to the limited number of available vehicles. Regardless, as Waymo continues expanding its self-driving tests, the company is steadily moving towards its ultimate goal of commercializing autonomous vehicles. Industry watchers are currently predicting that Alphabet’s self-driving subsidiary may be ready to offer commercial solutions come 2020, though that prediction will largely depend on state and federal regulators in the United States, many of whom still haven’t decided on the regulatory framework for this emerging technology.

Apart from Waymo, Uber, Lyft, and a number of other U.S. tech companies are currently in the process of developing driverless solutions, though it’s still unclear which company will end up being the first to commercialize autonomous vehicles. Uber itself was recently hit with a lawsuit from Waymo as the Alphabet-owned company alleged that the ride-hailing firm is using LiDAR designs stolen by Waymo’s former employee Anthony Levandowski. Though it remains to be seen how that legal dispute will end, its resolution could have far-reaching consequences for the self-driving industry in the country.

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