"Starting now, Waymo's fully self-driving vehicles - the most advanced self-driving vehicles on the road today - are test-driving on public roads, without anyone in the driver's seat", the company said.
"Our ultimate goal is to bring our fully self-driving technology to more cities in the USA and around the world", John Krafcik, Waymo's chief, said in prepared remarks at a technology conference in Portugal on Tuesday.
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.
Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Bringing that truly driverless Level 4 experience to public roads and public riders is a huge step, and a sign we could be hailing an autonomous ride sooner than you might think.
At first, those passengers will be accompanied in the back seat by a Waymo employee, but eventually they will travel alone, although they will be able to hit a button to stop the auto. Waymo said it plans to let passengers sit in the back in coming months, possibly without an employee in the vehicle. At the time, Krafcik declined to provide an exact timetable as to when it would begin testing fully self-driving vehicles on public roads.
We all knew there would eventually come a day when self-driving cars would start roaming U.S. streets without someone in the driver's seat for safety, but you still might be surprised that the day has come this soon.
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The service will first be available to those who are already part of the company's public trial already under way in Phoenix.
Krafick also announced that the company is going to launch a driverless ride-hailing service in the next few months.
Initially, the shortstop-free robo-cars will not carry members of the public, the company said.
The new rides are a major test for Waymo's technology, which has proved to be largely error-free in eight years. "Because they no longer have to be designed around a driver, just people", Krafcik said. Arizona, like many states, has no restrictions against operating an autonomous vehicle without a person in the driver's seat.
The Arma programme was slated to last one year. Once these measures have passed - and other self-driving companies have developed more road-ready systems - fully self-driving test programs could rapidly expand.
In April, Waymo announced it was expanding its fleet of 100 Chrysler minivans by an additional 500 vehicles and a test program - with operators behind the wheel - for families of non-Google employees to learn how people might use autonomous technology in daily life.