Waymo has been granted permission to test fully self-driving vehicles on Californian streets without human drivers behind the steering wheel.
The autonomous vehicle division of Alphabet will initially restrict its autonomous testing to the areas of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto, as it knows these areas well. Waymo intends on expanding beyond these areas, but will inform local residents before it does so and will also get the appropriate permissions from the DMV.
For the meantime, the company’s fleet of fully autonomous vehicles will be permitted to test during day and night, as well as on city streets, rural roads, and highways with speed limits of up to 65 mph (105 km/h), The Verge reports.
“Our vehicles can safely handle fog and light rain, and testing in those conditions is included in our permit,” the company said.
“We will gradually begin driverless testing on city streets in a limited territory and, over time, expand the area that we drive in as we gain confidence and experience to expand.”
Waymo is the first company to be granted such approval since the state began accepting applications for fully autonomous testing permits on April 2nd. Changes introduced by California allow for testing of vehicles without steering wheels, foot pedals, mirrors, and human drivers.
Waymo’s eventual goal is to launch a commercial taxi service of autonomous vehicles without humans acting as backup drivers. It admits that rides in its human-less vehicles won’t commence immediately, though it wouldn’t provide a timeline for when they will.