On Tuesday, Waymo, the driverless auto unit of Google's parent company, Alphabet, announced that its self-driving cars will no longer use human safety drivers as the company continues to test the vehicles around Arizona suburbs. And though the cars are driverless, they are not entirely without humans, at least for now.
The service will be free at first, but Waymo expects at some point to start charging for rides, a potential way to earn revenue to help offset the steep costs involved in developing the technology.
"Our ultimate goal is to bring our fully self-driving technology to more cities in the US and around the world", John Krafcik, Waymo's chief, said in prepared remarks at a technology conference in Portugal on Tuesday.
Its driverless prototype has been tested over short journeys on pre-defined routes, including taking a blind man to a doctor's appointment. No date has been released for the launch of the commercial endeavour, but just setting a vague timetable is a change from last week when Gizmodo took a ride in one of Waymo's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Dubbed Castle after a former air base, the large grounds feature buildings and roads that allow Waymo engineers the ability to repeatedly test new software before deploying the tech on public roads.
"A small fleet of fully self-driving cars could serve an entire community", Mr. Krafcik said.
The service marks a major step forward in the development and roll-out of fully autonomous vehicles. Most other companies now conducting self-driving tests are only at Level 3, a level that still requires a human operator for some (if not most) situations.
Over time it is expected that self-driving technology could dramatically improve the safety on our roads. It isn't clear the public is willing to surrender control to a computer, and unexpected safety issues could arise in tricky environments, such as snow.
Waymo shared some footage of the fully self-driving Pacificas out on the roads, demonstrating how the vehicles can handle different driving responsibilities like stopping for pedestrians and stoplights, signaling to turn, and more.
But her report said that should not be a reason to delay adoption.
Ditching the human test driver may sound alarming, but it brings Waymo closer to offering a truly autonomous vehicle. That will allow them to be built for very specific tasks, he said - "one for napping, a personal dining room, a mobile office".
The prince was the son of Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud - who was the crown prince of Saudi Arabia from January to April in 2015. The crash follows a day after a ballistic missile launch that was sacked at an airport in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi.
US President Donald Trump, on a visit to Japan, tweeted his concern, saying he was "monitoring the situation". Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told Fox News that at least 25 people were killed and 30 injured.
The five former Catalan leaders were taken into custody days after Spain issued European arrest warrants for them. Puigdemont married a fellow journalist, Marcela Topor, in 2000 and together they have two daughters.
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Turkey has also been enraged by Washington's support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in the fight against Islamic State. Please note, however, that limited appointment availability could result in longer than normal wait times".
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