New York is opening its arms to Waymo, and Alphabet’s self-driving car startup said on Wednesday that it will begin deploying vehicles in the city on Thursday, November 4. But these will not be the self-driving cars that we have been familiar with for several years.Instead, they will be driven by humans, and their main job is to map the streets of the city so that their software can begin to learn the inside and out of New York City.
In fact, Waymo also “has no immediate plan” to launch self-driving cars in New York City, but hopes to accumulate experience for its software.
Soon, residents and tourists will see Waymo cars driven by human drivers in the financial district south of Central Park. At the beginning, only five Chrysler Pacifica minivans specially equipped by the company were on the road, but Waymo plans to introduce several Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs locally.
The company added that it is happy to handle a complex region that is almost unique in the world. New York is the most densely populated city in the United States, and it has new weather challenges. Heavy rain and snow are not uncommon in this city. This gives Waymo’s software, Waymo Driver, an opportunity to better understand these conditions. In addition, it gives engineers the opportunity to see the performance of sensors and other gadgets in cold temperatures and precipitation.
Prior to this, Waymo expanded in Pittsburgh this year, and the company recently obtained a California DMV deployment license. The latter is a big step towards the introduction of paid self-driving taxi-hailing services in California. Waymo also joined the ranks of Mobileye, the company launched its own autonomous driving prototype in New York earlier this year.