Waymo car on road

Waymo, Google’s autonomous vehicle division, has applied for a permit that, if granted, will allow Google’s self driving car fleet to adventure on their own on public California roads with absolutely no driver behind the wheel, as recently allowed by the state.

This is an interesting time to apply, as tension is still high from the Uber self driving car killing a pedestrian, and the fatal crash of a Tesla in semi-auto mode, although in both of these incidents there was a backup driver and the Waymo autonomous carTesla’s owner was not complying with the system to keep his hands on the wheel, and in the case of the Uber fatality, several major autonomous systems were not active.

Despite all the concern, statistics show that autonomous cars are much safer than humans controlled ones. Once the technology has fully been developed -as several companies are close to achieving- this will drastically reduce fatalities due to automobile crashes. If they ever make flying cars, that will help clear roads too.  A big “if” nonetheless.

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