Waymo has put safety drivers back in the driver’s seat of its autonomous vehicles, sources claim. The change reportedly took place some time within the last month and is said to be the result of safety concerns at Alphabet. As well, a report claims that Waymo is limiting its self-driving car testing to only about 5-percent of the Phoenix metro region.
Waymo previously stated a goal of offering fully autonomous public taxi rides by the end of this year, but there’s doubt over whether Alphabet’s company will achieve that goal. The Information reports that safety worries prompted the company to move its safety drivers back into the driver’s seat, a change from their previously position in the passenger or rear seats.
Until this alleged change, Waymo’s safety drivers had spent the better part of a year outside of the driver’s seat in the company’s most advanced prototypes. Though these prototypes are still on the road, the report also claims the company is limiting its testing to approximately 60 square miles in Phoenix, Arizona.
Waymo is reportedly worried about fatigued drivers, among other potential issues, prompting it to add co-drivers to both day and night time shifts. As well, safety drivers are reportedly also being monitored by cameras installed in the vehicles to keep tabs on whether they fall asleep.
The move follows a report from October claiming that a Waymo self-driving vehicle accident was caused by a human safety driver who fell asleep and accidentally disengaged the autonomous software by touching the gas pedal. Because the driver was allegedly asleep, the action is said to have resulted in the car entering manual mode with no one to manually control it.