Waymo launches driverless rides for employees in Austin

Key Points:

  • Waymo to allow autonomous vehicles in Austin without safety operator
  • Expansion of ride-hailing program in Austin
  • Challenges faced by Waymo and other companies in the autonomous vehicle space


Waymo is pushing the boundaries of autonomous vehicle technology by initiating driverless operations in Austin, Texas. Beginning tomorrow, the company will introduce self-driving vehicles without safety operators in a designated 43-square-mile area encompassing various neighborhoods and downtown Austin. This milestone marks a significant progression towards opening the program to the general public. Waymo’s foray into Austin follows its recent authorization to offer paid rides in expanded regions of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the timeline for launching autonomous rides for Austin residents remains undisclosed, the city is poised to become the fourth location where Waymo’s robotaxis will be fully operational, joining Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Phoenix.


While Waymo progresses with its Waymo One autonomous ride-hailing program, other industry players face challenges. Cruise, under GM’s ownership, is under scrutiny from state and federal authorities following an October pedestrian collision. Concurrently, Ford-affiliated Argo AI has ceased operations. Furthermore, various Chinese autonomous vehicle startups have halted or reduced testing activities in the U.S. Waymo itself has encountered setbacks, as evidenced by a recent collision involving one of its vehicles and a cyclist in San Francisco. This incident is under investigation by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Additionally, Waymo issued a recall for its autonomous software following two incidents in which vehicles in Phoenix collided with the same towed truck late last year.



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