Waymo seeks to expand its self-driving vehicle testing initiatives to California after the Alphabet-owned company applied for a permit with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles to operate experimental driverless cars in the area. According to a new report from San Francisco Chronicle, which cites sources briefed on the company's plans, Waymo will begin the road tests in locations close to its Mountain View-based headquarters, where the autonomous car development firm plans to deploy vehicles with backup drivers to study the field first before using driverless cars.
The application comes more than a month after California's DMV approved the public testing of fully autonomous vehicles in the state. The new regulation officially took effect on April 2 and companies seeking to test cars without drivers in California roads are required to secure a permit from the DMV. Prior to this new ruling, companies that seek to conduct self-driving trials must designate a human driver to ride on the experimental vehicle as part of a precautionary measure in case of an emergency. Under the new regulation, companies conducting autonomous driving testing must assign a technician to remotely monitor and control the driverless vehicle in the event of an impending accident or any untoward event. Thankfully for Waymo, the company has already put a remote driving system in place and is expected to be one of the companies to experiment with self-driving vehicles on public roads in California. Waymo's application is reportedly one of two applications the DMV received since the implementation of the new ruling.
It was previously reported that Waymo kicked off testing of its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans in San Francisco early in January as part of its efforts to accelerate the delivery of viable self-driving vehicles. Google's self-driving spinoff also has already been entering into partnerships with several companies with the goal of allowing for the commercialization of its solutions on a large scale. Insurance is one of those goals. Last December, Waymo partnered with on-demand insurance technology startup, Trov, to offer insurance coverage to riders in the company’s future self-driving cars. Trov will offer the coverage at no extra cost for passengers as part of a commercial ride-hailing service Waymo plans to launch next year in Phoenix, Arizona.