Waymo First to Put Self-Driving Cars on U.S. Roads Without a Safety Driver

Since mid-October, Waymo—the autonomous vehicle division at Alphabet, Google's parent company—has been operating its autonomous minivans on public roads in Arizona without a safety driver, or any human at all, behind the wheel. Waymo is soon planning to invite regular people for rides in these fully self-driving vehicles. The news was announced in early November by Waymo CEO John Krafcik at a tech conference in Lisbon.

The company has partnerships with Fiat-Chrysler, Lyft and Avis, while also manufacturing its own sensors and hardware to reduce dependence on suppliers, which according to the CEO gives Waymo an advantage over its competitors.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently working to amend its voluntary autonomous vehicle guidelines to include buses and trucks, the latter of which Waymo is also working on. Congress is also weighing legislation that would give companies more latitude to deploy, test and capitalize on self-driving vehicles, though many companies are moving cautiously, aware of the fact that most people remain skeptical of autonomous technology.