Waymo Self-Driving Taxis Heading to Atlanta

The company's arrival in Atlanta follows winter testing in Buffalo, New York and spring assessments in Washington D.C.

Graham Hope

April 18, 2024

3 Min Read
The roof of a Waymo self-driving car.

Waymo’s expansion is set to continue after the company revealed plans to test its self-driving taxis in Atlanta, Georgia, this summer.

The news was confirmed by the firm, owned by Google parent Alphabet, in a post on X, where it said it would be continuing its process of evaluating how its autonomous Waymo Driver tech “generalizes to different environments and new experiences.”

Its arrival in Atlanta follows winter testing in Buffalo, New York, and spring assessments in Washington D.C., as part of what it calls its cross-country road trip program.

This sees Waymo take its self-driving taxis to regions well away from where it typically operates – which at the moment is predominantly Phoenix in Arizona, San Francisco and Los Angeles in California, and Austin in Texas.

The Atlanta deployment will follow the same pattern established in Buffalo and Washington.

Initially, a handful of self-driving taxis will hit the road, operated by humans and not available to the general public. These will be used to amass mapping data and get familiar with the local environment.

Once the robotaxis understand the local area, they then drive autonomously, with human specialists providing feedback to Waymo’s engineering teams.

Ultimately, the hope is that Waymo can apply the learnings and insights gained to offer a fully driverless operation in the city.

Related:Waymo California Expansion Gets Greenlight

Obviously, this would be subject to regulatory approval, although currently, Georgia has minimal restrictions in place for those who wish to test autonomous vehicles.

The addition of another new city to its roster reinforces how Waymo has forged ahead of its chief rival, General Motors’ Cruise, after seemingly lagging behind until late last year.

Cruise embarked on an ambitious expansion program, but that came to an abrupt halt when it suspended all operations after being branded an “unreasonable risk to public safety” by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, following an accident in October in San Francisco in which a pedestrian was badly injured.

The fallout from the incident saw GM massively reduce investment, senior staff depart and hundreds of other jobs lost and it is only in recent weeks that Cruise has made public its plans to resume operations, on a scaled down basis, in Phoenix.

During the same period, Waymo has gradually gathered momentum, increasing its activity at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport and running driverless tests on the city’s highways, expanding its coverage areas in San Francisco and Los Angeles – plus accepting fares in LA for the first time – and launching driverless rides for employees in Austin.

Related:Waymo Launches Driverless Taxi Service in Austin

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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