Waymo is bringing a fleet of as a test of its new fifth-generation automated driving system. The vehicles will be tested all over the city, including downtown, the Capitol, Market District and other locations. The vehicles that Waymo is testing in Austin are new all-electric Jaguar SUVs, it previously used.
Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, chose Austin as its next city for testing as an homage, of sorts, as it hosted the first prototype driverless car in 2015. Back then, the tests were conducted on , which ran the first generation of Waymo’s Driver system. Nowadays, they use a fifth-generation system that has been refined and adjusted throughout the past seven years.
Another likely reason they chose Austin? A Texas state law dictates that cities cannot regulate self-driving cars. To that end, the city already hosts a couple of competitors. Ford started in Austin last year and GM-backed startup Cruise has also set up shop. The city also plays host to
The vehicles will pick up riders throughout the city and the company is making connections with local community organizations to provide more services, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
This is a technology test and not a full-fledged rollout of a self-driving taxi fleet like the company already operates in Phoenix and San Francisco. Still, if the test goes well, it is easy to see Waymo bringing legitimate driverless ride-hail services to Austin.