Waymo is getting ready to roll more widely.
John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, announced during Google's annual I/O Developers Conference that his company will expand the Early Rider program later this year that allows members of the public to try out its self-driving cars. Currently, the Early Rider program is only available in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, but it will expand into the city of Phoenix later this year.
Waymo's mobile app will become available for Phoenix residents when the company expands. Residents can then order a Waymo like they would an Uber, except there will not be a human driver.
Before this expansion, all Waymo vans had human "safety drivers" who could put the car into manual mode, but the company will be doing away with that feature. During the conference, Dmitri Dolgov, an engineer, announced that Waymo vans have completed six million miles on the road.
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The latest announcement comes a week after a Waymo van got into an accident. The vehicle was in manual mode with a driver behind the wheel when another car ran a red light and hit the Waymo van. There were no severe injuries reported.
So far Waymo, Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report and Uber have been working to develop autonomous driving vehicles. Though both Uber and Tesla have seen fatalities with their self-driving vehicles, the car crash last week was Waymo's first.
Recently, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, mentioned autonomous cars during Tesla's earnings call. He called out the media for their coverage of autonomous accidents, and stated that the autonomous feature makes the car safer.
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