Waymo to Map Los Angeles in Search of Next AV Testing Site

Date: October 11, 2019
Source: Automotive News

Self-driving vehicle testing in the U.S. has largely been concentrated in places such as Silicon Valley, Phoenix and Pittsburgh.

But Los Angeles could soon join the list of AV test markets.

Waymo, the commercial spin-off of Google's self-driving car project, announced Monday that it will deploy a small fleet of three of its Chrysler minivans in the city to "map" the location before it decides whether to launch services there.

Waymo vehicles "will be in town exploring how Waymo's tech might fit into LA's dynamic transportation environment and complement the City's innovative approach to transportation," the company said on Twitter Monday.

Waymo, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., plans to examine road details to determine Los Angeles' suitability as a test site.

This includes evaluating "road types, the distance and dimensions of the road itself, and other topographical features such as lane merges, shared turn lanes, curb heights" and more, according to a Waymo spokeswoman.

Waymo's vehicles will begin driving in nonautonomous mode downtown and in L.A.'s Miracle Mile neighborhood.

The company already had a permit to test driverless vehicles on public roads in California, but mapping is the first step the company will take to decide whether Los Angeles is the best spot for its next venture. The company so far has been testing its self-driving ride-hailing services near Phoenix, and also operates AVs in Silicon Valley and other cities across the country.

Waymo is looking for more locations to branch out.

As for L.A.'s notoriously clogged roads, Waymo says one of its objectives is to test the city's "unique driving conditions."

A city's congestion patterns can help determine whether self-driving vehicles could benefit from being in that city.

--Alexa St. John

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