Google's self-driving car business, Waymo, in partnership with automaker Fiat Chrysler, says it's putting its vehicles on the road in Phoenix to gauge how passengers would use the vehicles.
Self-driving car developed by Google's Waymo and Chrysler on the road. Credit: Google
Phoenix residents are being encouraged to apply to be part of an early-rider program, said Waymo CEO John Krafcik in a company blog post Monday (April 24). Waymo already put 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans on the road earlier this year.
This past December, Google changed its plans to build its own car, opting instead to work with established car companies to develop self-driving cars equipped with Google's technology.
Government regulators like the National Institute for Highway Safety, as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway safety, a car insurance trade group, have had mixed takes on self-driving car safety. They've seemed hopeful that self-driving cars could help reduce traffic deaths, but aren't entirely convinced that they're safe.
So far, self-driving car developers have had backup drivers in their test cars, who would grab the wheel if necessary. While there were a few crashes involving its self-driving vehicles last year, earlier this year, Google said that the number of times a driver had to take manual control of the car has decreased to 125 times last year, compared with 341 times a year earlier.
A self-driving car developed by ride-hailing service Uber was involved in a crash this past March in Tempe, Ariz., but the company stood firm on continuing its self-driving car program as well.