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    Austin welcomes Waymo’s driverless cars: Testing begins with employee rides

    Alphabet-owned self-driving car company, Waymo, today begun testing its fully autonomous vehicles in Austin, Texas, with company employees as the first passengers. The move is a step forward for Waymo as it prepares to launch its ride-hailing service, Waymo One, to the public in the coming future.

    “The @Waymo Driver continues to impress after months of careful testing, and this milestone brings us a step closer to launching in our 4th ride-hail city,” Waymo’s Chief Product Officer Saswat Panigrahi wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

    According to a Reuters report, the company’s driverless cars will operate within a designated 43-square-mile area of Austin, encompassing key areas like downtown, Barton Hills, Riverside, East Austin, and Hyde Park. This initial phase focuses on employee transportation, but the autonomous cars company intends to expand the service to the public eventually, making Austin the fourth city alongside San Francisco, Phoenix, and Los Angeles to embrace Waymo’s robotaxis.

    Meanwhile, this move comes amidst a period of both progress and challenges for the self-driving car industry. While Waymo, headquartered in Mountain View, California, is steadily expanding its operations, competitors like Cruise and Argo AI have faced setbacks. These include accidents, investigations, and even closures. Even Waymo has not been without its own issues. A TechCrunch report noted recent incidents in San Francisco, including a collision with a cyclist and a software recall involving multiple vehicles, highlight the ongoing challenges in ensuring the safety and reliability of autonomous driving technology.

    Author

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    Monika Asthana

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