Waymo, a company that owns a large fleet of self-driving vehicles, is a big name when it comes to self-driving cars. On Monday, the company proved it yet again by announcing that it has hit a key milestone.
4 million miles – a big milestone
The Alphabet-owned company revealed that its autonomous fleet of vehicles has now crossed 4 million miles driven. The number does not include the time on the test track or in simulations, rather it is the total miles driven by Waymo self-driving cars on public roads. The number, however, includes the miles by Waymo’s entire test fleet, starting from its original autonomous vehicles to its present driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
Stressing the importance of this number, the company says that an average American driver would take 300 years to cover the same miles.
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“These millions of miles of experience have been crucial to reaching our latest milestone: putting the world’s first fully self-driving cars on public roads without anyone in the driver’s seat,” the company said in a blog post.
In addition, the pace at which the Waymo self-driving cars are covering miles is increasing. After six long years, the company completed its first million miles in June 2015. From there, it took about two years to get to the 4 million mile mark. In comparison, its latest million miles came between just May and November of this year.
This latest milestone for Waymo comes just weeks after the company announced that its cars would no longer use a human safety driver while testing on the public roads of Phoenix.
“Waymo’s fully self-driving vehicles—our safest, most advanced vehicles on the road today—are test-driving on public roads, without anyone in the driver’s seat,” the company said at that time.
At the time, the company also mentioned that over the next few months, it will be inviting members of the public to experience its fully self-driving vehicles.
Waymo self-driving cars – the journey so far
Waymo notes that in its journey so far, its vehicles have driven all the hills in the Santa Cruz Mountains, every bridge in the Bay Area and faced dust storms in Arizona. On the other hand, in simulation and on test tracks, the Waymo self-driving cars have traveled almost 2.5 billion miles, the company said.
Both the miles driven on public roads and simulation and test tracks are helping to perfect Waymo’s autonomous systems. The simulation and test tracks are inspired by real-life scenarios, including rare events like “people jumping out of canvas bags or skateboarders lying on their boards.” Waymo’s private test facility is home to over 20,000 unique scenarios.
According to Waymo, it has approvals to test its self-driving cars on public roads in 23 cities across four states.
“With this accelerated learning cycle, we’ve been able to teach our vehicles the advanced driving skills necessary for full autonomy,” the Alphabet-owned company said.
Waymo is among the oldest name in the self-driving field, and certainly, the most advanced at this point in time. In comparison, Uber’s self-driving efforts reached a million miles driven in September of this year. Further, the ride-hailing app is facing challenges in developing its self-driving tech owing to its dispute with Waymo over the theft of trade secrets.