What’s Happening: Waymo is returning to Austin, Texas, to test its fifth-generation autonomous vehicle driver on the Jaguar I-PACE platform. The company will conduct tests in central and East Austin, including downtown, Rainey Street, Clarksville, Bouldin Creek, the Market District, Holly, and the Capitol.
Why It Matters: This marks the latest phase in Waymo’s journey toward widespread deployment of autonomous vehicles. The lessons learned from the Austin tests will help the company refine its technology for use in any city, making it easier to adapt to new environments and ultimately increase the availability of self-driving cars.
- In 2015, Steve Mahan became the first person to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle on residential streets in Austin, in Waymo’s Firefly prototype vehicle.
- Since then, tens of thousands of people have ridden in Waymo’s autonomous vehicles, and its Waymo One ride-hail service is available to the public in Phoenix and San Francisco.
- Austin is a crucial testing ground due to its rapid growth, diverse neighborhoods, and unique traffic challenges, providing valuable lessons for the Waymo Driver.
Bottom Line: Waymo is eager to learn from Austin’s busy streets and use this knowledge to improve its autonomous driving technology across its operations. The company is also engaging with local organizations committed to road safety and access to mobility, demonstrating its commitment to improving transportation for everyone.