Skip to main content

Waymo’s autonomous cars steer clear of any potential election unrest

Waymo has taken its autonomous cars off the streets of San Francisco and placed them in a secure location to ensure they don’t get caught up in any election-related unrest that may occur.

Transdev, Waymo’s fleet operations vendor, told The Verge that the company had decided to temporarily pause testing of its self-driving vehicles until Thursday.

Chris Cheung, general manager at Transdev North America, said the vehicles will be safely stored at a secure location in Mountain View, California, for the next couple of days. Mountain View is home to Waymo’s parent company, Alphabet, and is located about 30 miles from downtown San Francisco.

Cheung added that the decision had been made “out of an abundance of caution ahead of some of the planned protests around the general election.”

Waymo cars that are already based in Mountain View will, however, continue operating as usual on the streets there. Its fleet in Phoenix, Arizona, will also stay on the road this week.

Waymo’s autonomous cars are already highly advanced, with an onboard suite of cameras, sensors, and powerful software able to safely handle a wide range of occurrences on the road in front. Streets filled with demonstrators, however, could end up blocking the vehicles, preventing them from going anywhere while also leaving them exposed to potential damage, and so the company has decided to temporarily remove them some streets.

It’s not the first time in 2020 that Waymo has decided to take its self-driving vehicles off the street. Earlier this year, it suspended operations for several months as part of safety measures taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even when Waymo’s cars are off the road, the team can still keep working. That’s because a good chunk of the research includes running driving simulations on computers, in which one day in simulation is equivalent to 100 years of real-world driving, according to Waymo.

Whether or not the vehicles are on the road testing the company’s technology in real-world scenarios, Waymo continues to drive around 20 million miles every day in simulation as it continues its work to refine its autonomous systems.

Waymo has made significant progress over the years, and is currently testing a ridesharing service in Phoenix that has no backup driver behind the wheel.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Cruise says it’s nearing approval for mass production of futuristic robotaxi
Interior of Cruise's Origin vehicle.

Robotaxi company Cruise is “just days away” from getting regulatory approval that would pave the way for mass production of its purpose-built driverless vehicle, CEO Kyle Vogt said on Thursday in comments reported by the Detroit Free Press.

General Motors-backed Cruise unveiled the vehicle -- called Origin -- in early 2020, presenting the kind of driverless car that we all dreamed of when R&D in the sector kicked off years ago; a vehicle without a steering wheel and without pedals. A vehicle with passenger seats only.

Read more
Robotaxi firm Cruise ordered to halve fleet following incidents
A Cruise autonomous car.

Autonomous car company Cruise has been told by regulators to halve its robotaxi fleet in San Francisco following a crash with a fire truck on Thursday in which the driverless car's passenger suffered minor injuries.

The regulator -- the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) -- said that it’s looking into “recent concerning incidents” involving self-driving Cruise cars operating on the city’s public roads.

Read more
An autonomous car in San Francisco got stuck in wet concrete
A Cruise autonomous car.

A self-driving car operated by General Motors-backed Cruise got stuck on Tuesday when it drove into a patch of wet concrete.

The incident happened in San Francisco and occurred just days after California's Public Utilities Commission made a landmark decision when it voted to allow autonomous-car companies Cruise and Waymo to expand their paid ridesharing services in the city to all hours of the day instead of just quieter periods.

Read more