Waymo is growing its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans by the "thousands," Alphabet's subsidiary said Tuesday, having announced its move via Wired. The new additions to its vehicle portfolio won't be delivered to the company at once, with its operations being set to grow in a gradual manner over the course of this year. The exact number of additional minivans Waymo ordered remains undisclosed, though many of them are expected to end up in Phoenix, Arizona, where the firm is planning to start offering an autonomous ride-hailing service in the coming months after running limited tests in the area for nearly a year.
Waymo's efforts to commercialize driverless transportation have been maturing in recent times, with the company already inking first partnerships meant to support its core business, including fleet management and insurance. While its self-driving project likely has an internal roadmap in regards to its widespread public availability, Waymo still isn't sharing many details on the matter, presumably because its plans may be drastically changed depending on how the federal government opts to regulate autonomous cars. The vehicles created by the Mountain View, California-based company surpassed four million miles driven as of late November and are becoming better at effectively navigating public roads with every subsequent travel milestone they reach, growing their traffic data pool used as the basis for Waymo's machine learning algorithms to determine their optimal course of action in every scenario. The firm has recently been stress-testing its Chrysler Pacificas in extreme weather conditions and is expected to ramp up its efforts on that front in the coming months.
Many industry watchers believe Waymo is currently leading the self-driving industry and is much closer to commercializing its fleet than any of its rivals, though being the first company to offer autonomous vehicles to the public may also put the firm under an immense level of scrutiny. Every credible study released so far shows that the vast majority of people are still skeptical about the emerging technology and many don't want to be the first to test its viability, citing safety concerns. Waymo has yet to clarify what kind of assurances it intends to provide to the general public in order to convince it its driverless transportation solutions are not just a trustworthy alternative to human drivers but are theoretically even safer.