Waymo continues to expand the pool of locations where it's testing its autonomous vehicle tech, and the latest destination is metro Atlanta. The former Google self-driving car company revealed the news on Twitter, noting that it's expanding considerably its geographic testing footprint now that it's got fully driverless test vehicles on the road in Phoenix.
Hello ATL! Metro Atlanta is the next stop for Waymo's test program. Now that we have the world's first fully self-driving vehicles on public roads in AZ, we're looking to take our tech to more cities. pic.twitter.com/YFLvxkVMMd— Waymo (@Waymo) January 22, 2018
Its test cars in cities outside of Arizona still have safety drivers at the wheel, but the more places it can get its Pacificas with autonomous tech on roads, the better for building an autonomous driving "brain" that can handle anything it encounters. Atlanta has some specific challenges, including bad traffic (commute and traffic issues are ranked among the worst locations in the U.S.) and one of the more dense greater metro areas in the U.S., and temperatures that regularly reach a humid 80+ degrees Fahrenheit.
Metro Atlanta marks Waymo's 25th test city in total, including its recent return to San Francisco. Its testing so far has consisted of mapping the city with manually driven Waymo vehicles ahead of launching its testing program in full.
A Waymo spokesperson provided the following statement to TechCrunch regarding the expansion:
Now that we have the world's first fleet of fully self-driving cars on public roads, we're focused on taking our technology to a wide variety of cities and environments. We're looking forward to our testing in Metro Atlanta, and the opportunity to bring this lifesaving technology to more people in more places.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal also provided the statement below:
With our talented workforce and legacy of innovation, Georgia is at the forefront of the most dynamic, cutting edge industries like autonomous vehicles. We are thrilled to welcome Waymo to our state because fully self-driving vehicle technology holds tremendous potential to improve road safety, and we are proud Georgia is paving the way for the future of transportation.
Reporting by Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch.