Waymo announces expanded San Francisco testing program

One of the many companies working on getting autonomous automobiles on the roads in California is Waymo. The company has been testing autonomous cars in the San Francisco Bay Area since early 2009. That year, Waymo completed its first 1000 autonomous miles within the state.

Waymo says that it's accelerating the development and testing of its technology in cities to allow it to eventually bring the benefits of fully autonomous driving to more people. Before it deploys a commercial service, the Waymo team will provide feedback on the product experience allowing the company to validate its progress.

Waymo says the key is to continue improving the rider experience inside its autonomous cars. Waymo has started limiting rider testing in San Francisco to Waymo employee volunteers to gather feedback and improve the technology. The company is also conducting testing using enhanced pandemic safety protocols to ensure the safety of all riders.

Waymo promises further details about how it's optimizing its technology to tackle driving in San Francisco over the next few months. With Waymo testing in the San Francisco area for over a decade, it's optimized its Waymo Driver's 360-degree vision system and lidar to optimize the complexity of urban driving. Waymo cameras can spot traffic lights changing from a long distance, even on crowded streets.

The autonomous cameras are also able to spot jaywalkers running across the Street unexpectedly and react appropriately. Waymo also uses a perception system allowing the autonomous Driver to know how to handle a pedestrian while knowing how to handle trees and other obstacles. The perception system is flexible to changes on roads it's already familiar with, such as during construction or other traffic incidents. The planning and routing system is able to automatically update the vehicle route and navigate the new layout.