The California Department of Motor Vehicles received a second request to test fully driverless vehicles on public roads, and the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the applicant is Waymo, the Google Parent Alphabet autonomous unit.
Waymo is already testing completely driverless cars without a human safety driver behind the wheel on public roads in Arizona, so it's not surprising that the company is interested in performing similar tests on its California terrain. A Waymo spokesperson confirmed the request to the Chronicle. A DMV spokesperson acknowledged that a second application was received but declined to name any of the companies until their approval.
California began accepting driverless test permit applications on April 2 after a rule change opened the door for companies wishing to test their autonomous vehicles on public roads. Among the many provisions, the new rules would allow autonomous cars without steering wheels, pedals, mirrors and human drivers behind the wheel to be tested on their roads.
California is an obvious hotbed for autonomous vehicle testing, so changes to the state standards that govern these tests are closely followed by companies like General Motors, Waymo and Uber that are developing fleets of driverless cars for public use. . There are currently 50 companies testing nearly 300 autonomous vehicles licensed by the DMV, authorities said.
Waymo says it's the only company that has totally driverless vehicles on the road today. Last month, a fatal crash in Arizona involving a self-controlled Uber vehicle sent shockwaves through the automotive and technology industries, raising questions about the safety surrounding this technology and the permissiveness of states like Arizona to welcome the tests. Unlike Arizona, however, California has permit and disclosure policies around cars that drive themselves.