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Waymo joins 1 million test mile club, expands driverless rides to Los Angeles

Robotaxi developer Waymo announced that this past January, it surpassed 1 million miles of autonomous driving with no human present in the vehicle. Waymo competitor Cruise also recently reached the autonomous milestone, but Waymo has also publicly shared the data to back up its progress. As previously teased last year, Waymo is also now officially testing driverless rides in Los Angeles.

Waymo was launched in 2009 by Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc. as a self-driving car project. In 2016, the Google project was officially rebranded as Waymo, derived from “a new way forward in mobility.” Since then, Waymo has tested its various self-driving vehicles in several states.

Additionally, it has been charging driverless rides for people in Chandler, Arizona, since 2019. That was followed by paid rides in San Francisco. At the time of its application to the California DMV, Waymo stated it had logged over 83,000 autonomous miles in the San Francisco area alone.

Obviously, its total for autonomous driving miles is much larger, given the company’s growing footprint in robotaxi testing. Today we learned that Waymo finally eclipsed 1 million miles on its way south to testing more driverless rides in Los Angeles, California.

Waymo Los Angeles
Credit: Los Angeles

Waymo is bringing driverless rides to Los Angeles

According to a blog post from Waymo today, the company recently surpassed 1 million miles on public roads without a human monitor present in the vehicle. The company points out that this distance equates to 40 trips around planet Earth or 80 years behind the wheel for the average American.

As previously mentioned, fellow robotaxi developer Cruise recently announced the same accomplishment as well. However, Waymo has one-upped its competitor by publicly sharing the safety performance data gathered from each and every ride. Throughout those million miles, Waymo vehicles were only involved in two crashes and 18 “minor contact events,” for a total of 20 incidents with zero reported injuries. Impressive.

Waymo also points out that over half the contact events were the result of a human driver hitting a stationary Waymo vehicle, not the other way around. Per the blog post:

Despite 24/7 driving across major U.S. cities, Waymo experienced no collisions at all of the types that are responsible for 94% of fatal collisions in NHTSA’s crash investigation database (FARS).

Every vehicle-to-vehicle event involved one or more road rule violation and/or dangerous behaviors on the part of the human drivers in the other vehicle.

Waymo states that with its million-mile milestone and the data results shared today, it is confident of its commercial progress and looks to provide even more evidence of the safety using its driverless robotaxis provides during transportation around crowded urban landscapes. Part of that expansion will now include further driverless testing in Los Angeles. Here’s a recent Tweet from Waymo Co-CEO Dmitri Dolgov:

Looking ahead, Waymo has added Los Angeles to its list of cities where pedestrians can hail driverless rides. As you can see in the footage above, it has already begun testing in the City of Angels. Last October, we reported that some Waymo vehicles could be spotted in Los Angeles, exploring how the robotaxi tech could fit into the city’s infrastructure – one that is riddled by anemic public transit and remains heavily reliant on automobiles to get around.

Testing appears to be growing in Southern California and should continue as Waymo looks to reach its next million in driverless miles. So keep an eye out for those robotaxis if you’re living in the Los Angeles area.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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