Waymo Driver hits NYC streets

Firm says insights will help Waymo Driver AV system predict actions of other road users 
Classification & Data Collection / November 17, 2021
By Ben Spencer
Waymo Waymo Driver New York City autonomous vehicle mapping complex intersections
Waymo fleet consists of hybrid Chrysler Pacificas and Jaguar I-Pace vehicles (image credit: Waymo)

Waymo’s autonomous vehicle system is mapping New York City (NYC) following tests in dozens of cities spanning a range of climates and topographies. 

In a blog post, the company says it has designed Waymo Driver to handle complex and dynamic activities that define city driving, which in the case of NYC include bustling avenues, unusual road geometrics and complex intersections. 

The vehicles will be manually operated by autonomous specialists at all times to help Waymo advance the technology with the aim of making roads safer. 

The heavy rain and dense snowfall that Waymo expects to encounter will give more opportunities to assess the way the its sensors perform in wet and cold conditions beyond its data augmentation and simulation testing. 

New York mayor-elect Mayor-elect Eric Adams says: “Autonomous vehicles hold the promise to dramatically improve traffic flow and expand access to convenient and affordable transportation for millions of New Yorkers. I’m excited to welcome Waymo to New York so that one day we can have safe autonomous technology on our streets.”

Jose Hernandez, advocacy coordinator of United Spinal Association's New York City Chapter says: “We appreciate Waymo‘s commitment to strengthening access to autonomous vehicles for the masses, including individuals with disabilities. These are the first steps in bringing New York City into the future of transportation that we can all utilise.”

Waymo’s vehicles are now driving in Manhattan, primarily south of Central Park. The firm's operations will extend through the city to the financial district and also out to a small section of New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel. 

Five hybrid Chrysler Pacificas will operate during the day followed by several several zero-emission Jaguar I-Paces as Waymo continues learning from NYC's busy traffic and geometric features. 

According to Waymo, the insights will help the Waymo Driver improve its ability to perceive and predict the actions of other road users in dense urban areas.

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