Waymo applies to start driverless testing in MV

DMV considering new application for self-driving cars on public roads without a person in the vehicle

Google offshoot Waymo filed an application on Friday morning to begin testing its self-driving cars without humans sitting behind the wheel. If approved by state regulators, the request could result in as many as 75 driverless vehicles being tested in Mountain View and other South Bay cities, according to a source familiar with the application.

Self-driving cars have been navigating Mountain View's streets for years, but have been required to have a human in the driver's seat to take control if the autopilot system were to fail.

That rule changed this month. Starting on April 2, the California Department of Motor Vehicles began a new testing phase for companies to operate their autonomous vehicles independently. These cars would still need to be tracked remotely, but a human would no longer need to be physically sitting in the driver's seat.

Waymo confirmed Friday, April 13, that the company applied for the new driverless testing in a statement to the Voice, but the company spokesperson declined to comment on the record.

Waymo is now the second company to apply for permission in California to test autonomous vehicles without drivers present. DMV officials received one prior application from an unidentified company last week, but it was deemed incomplete. Until testing permits are granted, DMV officials are declining to disclose the applicants or the applications.

Driverless testing is a big step for California, but other states are already allowing it on public streets. Waymo currently operates fully driverless testing in Arizona using a geofence system that control where the vehicles can travel. A similar system will set the boundaries for where the company's cars can go in California, according to a source familiar with the application.

Under the state's rules, autonomous vehicle companies are required to coordinate with local officials in cities where they plan to test-drive. This coordination includes providing information on where and when self-driving cars will be operating.

Mountain View officials say they have met with Waymo representatives in recent days, but the company has not provided these details so far. The company will also need to provide a procedure plan for how local police can interact with the vehicles.

Based on his meeting with Waymo, Mayor Lenny Siegel said the company would begin testing its driverless vehicles over the next several months.


16 people like this
Posted by OK
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:25 pm

OK is a registered user.

Couldn't be any worse than some of the local drivers in Mountain View. The sooner we can get cars out of the hands of humans, the better.

2 people like this
Posted by test Fake It Out!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:29 pm

People in the past have commented about how they would "spook" one of the Google/Waymo cars by pretending to dart out into the street. See how it would react! Based on the traffic recent fatality - MV residents would do a great service to the rest of humanity, by 'spoofing' these robots on a regular basis.

Asimov's First Law
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:38 pm

Technology to appeal to those who are too insecure or incompetent to control their own destiny. Pretty much a mechanical nanny.

Sure, when I can no longer safely drive I will take advantage of autonomous vehicles for the sake of mobility, but until that dark day arrives I shall resist being relegated to the role of a mere passenger. I fear for the future of humanity when so many people are eager to relegate decision making to machines.

- John from Web Link

17 people like this
Posted by Hubris
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Hubris is a registered user.

That attitude is why there are over 30,000 automotive-related accidents every year. "I'm a good driver; everyone else is the problem!" -- No, you're an imperfect, easily-distracted human who thinks they're a better driver than they actually are. Just like I am, just like everyone else is.

The sooner we accept our limitations as humans and allow technology to help us make the world safer, they sooner we can prevent needless tragedy by the thousands.

(Of course, the technology has to get WAY better before then, but that's happening!)

9 people like this
Posted by Re: Hubris
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Re: Hubris is a registered user.

There aren't over 30,000 automotive-related accidents every year. There are over 30,000 automotive-related *fatalities* every year. And that's just in the U.S. Globally that number is WELL over 1 million, approaching 1.5 million.

2 people like this
Posted by vonlost
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 13, 2018 at 3:05 pm

It will be many years from now (a generational attitude change?), but when all vehicles are automatically driven, with all nearby vehicles in constant contact with each other, vehicle collisions will be exceedingly rare. It will still be a challenge to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from darting in front of automatic vehicles. Perhaps everyone will carry a Fitbit-sized transponder to provide early warning of sudden moves.

Imagine all vehicles smoothly moving at the limit, no slowpoke holding everyone else up.

5 people like this
Posted by MVFlyer
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 13, 2018 at 3:09 pm

I for one welcome our self-driving car overlords.

I live near the Waymo building. My only complaint is that the self driving cars are SLLLLLOOOOOWWWW. They actually look all ways before proceeding into an intersection. How stupid is that?

Like this comment
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2018 at 7:53 pm

I think it is imperative that we know whether or not there is an occupant to these cars in the case of an accident. How do we know if there is a fiery crash (like the recent Tesla crash) whether we should risk our lives to rescue a non-existent occupant?

15 people like this
Posted by Sophie
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2018 at 9:32 pm

I don’t think it’s right to test the Waymo on public roads before Google can assure its quality and functionality. I don’t like to be a free guinea pig for a big corporation.

10 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2018 at 12:26 am


It's a bit late for that. They've been on the road for 10 years now.

15 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2018 at 12:05 pm

WHEN exactly Waymo started running self-driving cars is irrelevant to Sophie's point above: wanting assurance of quality and functionality rather than to be guinea pig for the interests of a private firm.

When Elaine Herzberg was killed in Arizona recently by a self-driving Uber car, there was even a "human safety backup driver" inside and it didn't save her. Albeit the "human safety backup driver" failed to do the job, such as paying attention to the road, which might well have saved Herzberg ("The driver-facing video shows the safety driver was looking down prior to the collision" -- Wikipedia). At least that driver can be properly prosecuted for manslaughter. How do you hold a large corporation accountable in the event that its self-driving cars also kill pedestrians?

4 people like this
Posted by Living Guinea Pig
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2018 at 1:49 pm

I wonder how many accidents have been prevented and lives saved by our fleets of driver-less cars.
It's interesting to ponder since so few accidents have occurred compared to "driven" cars.

Given what we know now as fact regarding safety, we should be screaming that they still let driven cars on the roads. THAT'S where the accidents and death are happening, right this very second.

Like this comment
Posted by vonlost
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 16, 2018 at 1:57 pm

The proof of Waymo cars’ safety is already in the statistics. How many more years of bad drivers’ killing others must we endure? Apparently a few. Of course Waymo will be held responsible when their cars cause a collision.

Like this comment
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Interesting that someone brings up the Uber accident that killed a pedestrian with a bike. Expecting the unexpected is something that human drivers have difficulty with. I have watched that dashcam video many times and I am not sure if I could have avoided hitting the pedestrian who does indeed appear out of nowhere. Swerving and braking takes time.

However, the interesting thing about that accident is that as humans we depend on our eyesight and lights, but the Uber car should not have been hindered by the fact that it was dark. The radar, lasers and sensors work on technology other than sight. Waymo indicated that their technology would have avoided the collision as its technology is different to Uber.

Like this comment
Posted by Not a Luddite
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 18, 2018 at 3:53 pm

The people who object to this most vociferously and disproportionately are often those not following the latest developments. They read about the recent fatal accident with Tesla and consider they’re now an expert.

There will always be people who don’t accept self driving cars even if we can statistically show they’re safer. Everyone gets a vote but all options are not equally well informed.

It was probably the same thing when elevators didn’t need an attendant to operate them. Theirs people had grandparents who were saying, I don’t want this!

2 people like this
Posted by Dez
a resident of Cuernavaca
23 hours ago

Is Wayno paying Mountain View to use our tax payer funded public streets as their test course? What is in it for residents besides getting more cars on our streets to clog up traffic?

6 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
6 hours ago

This is new and different so I'm against it, regardless of the fact that they are infinitely safer than cars with drivers in them. I just need a different argument to create other than safety since that one has been lost already.

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