Google’s autonomous driving business unit, Waymo, won’t be needing to worry about any backseat drivers as the company just got approved to test driverless cars without a human in the front seat by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
The company was granted the right to deploy around thirty six test cars in the county of Santa Clara which in the greater metro area of the world famous Silicon Valley in northern California. This is a big deal because up until now regulations required self driving cars to have a human companion to be able to take control of the vehicles should they experience any emergencies.
The California government has issued in the neighbourhood of about sixty permits to companies who want to test autonomous vehicles, including Apple, but all were required to have a back up human driver. All of these new grant of rights to test have been in play since last April. One of the conditions on getting this new approval passed is that Waymo must be able to communicate to and monitor the cars 100 % of the time and carry no less than five million dollars in insurance and must always let any communities that they are operating in know that the vehicles will be operating in their jurisdiction.
The company will be allowed to run tests both at night and during the day and won’t have any road restrictions but must manage speed limits to a max of sixty five miles per hour. The company has assured regulators that the company’s fleet will be able to manage adverse conditions such as fog and light rain. The company plans to run the tests in this California community, but hopes to be able to expand its reach into other states that support the autonomous driving initiatives.
The company also announced that it would looking to launch a commercial venture for a ride sharing program that would be using self driving cars and that Arizona was the target state for the experiment in early 2019.