Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Alphabet, announced that its self-driving cars have already traveled eight million miles on public roads across the United States as of this month. Just within the past 30 days, the company's autonomous vehicles logged a total of around one million miles as Waymo ramped up the testing of its autonomous vehicles in a substantial manner, with the company recording a total of around four million miles traveled since last November, as visualized by the graph that can be seen below.
Among the projects that contributed to the sharp increase in the number of miles traveled by Waymo's vehicles is the successful Early Rider Program in Phoenix, Arizona. On a daily basis, this particular service picks up more than 400 riders, most of whom are people who are not capable of driving on their own. According to Waymo, this program increased the number of miles traveled by the company's vehicles to around 24,000 per day. The number of traveled miles could soon rise even further as Waymo may soon start its autonomous vehicle pilot program in the state of California. In the permit given by the California Public Utilities Commission, companies participating in the pilot programs are required to give free rides to passengers aged 18 and above. While the agency did not name any individual company, it is expected that Waymo's self-driving vehicle program is one of the two projects approved by the commission.
Aside from real-world tests, Waymo CEO John Krafcik recently revealed that the firm's vehicles traveled more than five billion miles in simulated environments. The company is utilizing a special virtual training ground called Carcraft to test the driving software that powers its autonomous vehicles before deploying it on public roads. The training system simulates a number of real-world scenarios and driving challenges, allowing Waymo's engineers to test how its autonomous vehicles respond to risky scenarios without having to deal with possible loss of life and other dangers of real-world testing. Another advantage to using virtual training grounds is that doing so allows for repeated testing of autonomous cars in a short span of time, which significantly accelerated the development of Waymo's vehicles, according to the technology firm.