Waymo, formerly Google’s self-driving car project, announced on Twitter Monday that “Metro Atlanta is the next stop for Waymo’s test program.”
“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,” a Waymo representative told The Drive. “We’re looking forward to our testing in Metro Atlanta, and the opportunity to bring this lifesaving technology to more people in more places.”
Waymo is already running a Level 4 autonomous fleet in Chandler, Arizona, with more than 4 million public road miles recorded since the project began in 2009. But Atlanta is quite a different environment than Arizona. Traffic is heavier, to say the least. Plus a wide variety of weather conditions, from heat to heavy rain and even snow, will present new challenges for Waymo’s self-driving cars to conquer.
Atlanta, the 25th city where Waymo has tested its self-driving cars, was chosen because it is one of the largest metropolitan areas of the country and a major hub for transportation of all kinds. Local and state governments are interested in working with Waymo to bring its innovation and technology to the area.
“With our talented workforce and legacy of innovation, Georgia is at the forefront of the most dynamic, cutting-edge industries like autonomous vehicles,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal in a statement. “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.”
Waymo is already preparing to unleash its self-driving cars on the Metro Atlanta area. This involves driving one of its self-driving vehicles, complete with all sensors, around the area manually. This builds Waymo’s map of the area in far greater detail than any GPS or street map is capable of doing, essentially creating a 3D model of the area and all of its fixed obstacles and traffic signals.