In a pandemic-ridden world, we are seeing the rise of all things that provide contactless, healthy delivery and travel, and driverless cars have seen a boom of innovation, perhaps it wouldn't have normally if the COVID-19 had not accelerated the innovation process.
Waymo, owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has announced that it is creating its own fake city to test its driverless cars in a safe and secure environment and refine the technology further. Moreover, the autonomous technology development company is opening two new driverless vehicle facilities
Waymo is currently operating a ride-hailing program, Waymo One, in Phoenix, AZ, but it looks like it will expand its business and broaden its scope with more developments.
Waymo will be reportedly working with Transportation Research Center to build the replica city in East Liberty, Ohio, per SlashGear. While the company had another such city before, this one will be in a new location which is perfect for all the testing Waymo wants to conduct on snow and ice. This will be of utmost importance since autonomous vehicle sensors can be challenged by reduced visibility.
The company will be also testing the driverless vehicles in more unusual and dangerous scenarios that you wouldn't commonly encounter on public roads.
1/2 Waymo has secured two new facilities to advance the #WaymoDriver. First, we’re working with @TRCPG to co-develop an exclusive, first-of-its-kind testing environment that will model a dense urban environment. Second, we’re opening an R&D facility in Menlo Park, pic.twitter.com/WiX2vs2LxF— Waymo (@Waymo) December 1, 2020
Numerous types of autonomous vehicles will be tested, namely regular cars and Class 8 trucks. Moreover, they'll be building facilities for research and development, per Automotives News. A second R&D facility in Menlo Park will also be opened, and the facility will focus more on Class 8 trucks.
Waymo wrote on Twitter, "Together, these new facilities will enable us to advance the latest generation of our fully autonomous driving technology across multiple vehicle platforms."
Things are definitely looking up for driverless cars. In groundbreaking news, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced recently that it would allow autonomous taxis to charge for their services, regardless they have a driver or not, Gizmodo reports. Waymo will be benefitting from this news thanks to its CPUC-issued Autonomous Vehicle Pilot permit.