Atlanta Becomes Next American City to Host Waymo's Autonomous Test Fleet

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, is testing the crap out of its ever-growing fleet of autonomous Chrysler Pacificas. While we know the company has already mapped dozens of North American towns, the majority of its testing takes place around Austin, Detroit, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Seattle, and especially Phoenix.

However, today the company tweeted out that it will add Atlanta, Georgia, to that list. Presently, Arizona is the only region where Waymo routinely operates vehicles without a human behind the wheel. But that’s liable to change as the firm gets more testing under its belt. Atlantans may be leaning out of car windows to snap photos of driverless vans soon enough.

In the corporate tweet, Waymo greeted Metro Atlanta before announcing it as the next locale for it’s autonomous testing program. Unfortunately, it did not mention the size of the fleet or if it intended to expand its Early Rider program to the city.

Shortly after the announcement, The Verge reported Georgia Governor Nathan Deal released a public statement welcoming his city’s new robotic overlords.

“With our talented workforce and legacy of innovation, Georgia is at the forefront of the most dynamic, cutting edge industries like autonomous vehicles,” Deal said. “We are thrilled to welcome Waymo to our state because fully self-driving vehicle technology holds tremendous potential to improve road safety, and we are proud Georgia is paving the way for the future of transportation.”

[Image: Waymo]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • JustPassinThru JustPassinThru on Jan 22, 2018

    Every time one of these algorithm-controlled cars crashes into someone - and it will keep ON happening - we hear the same reflexive soundbyte: "Well, would you rather some drunk or impaired driver crashed into you?" Obviously, no. But what you have with real, sentient human drivers that you don't have with Big-Algorithm operations with black boxes, programmed by nobody-knows-who...what you have with real drivers is the ability to REACT to OTHERS' mistakes. And to see what is happening. At the most obvious: A driver is weaving. Drunk, stroke, medical issue? Doesn't matter. BACK OFF. You know that. The algorithm does not. Second issue: Hit another car or a child in the crosswalk? YOU know. The algorithm will sense the child has lesser mass and will steer for it. Good for the Alphabet-Mobile. Bad for kids walking to school. The list goes on. Someone running a red light, you can avoid by taking the ditch. Will the algorithm? Apparently not, at least not in every case. Green light means computer A has the right of way. Until it's hit right in the center. This ain't gonna work...but we can get a lot of people killed, proving it to the Really Smart Set.

  • Civicjohn Civicjohn on Jan 23, 2018

    I'm afraid this just makes for good political fodder. That the governor would make such a self-serving comment is reprehensible. During the holidays, my son was home from college and we went to a football game (confession - I'm a Titans season ticket holder, so keep that for another article!!), and I always let him drive because he was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 5 years old, so of course, since I was the person who taught him how to drive, I always put him behind the wheel so I can see his progress. As an aside, for those who have children with that diagnosis, don't ever look at at the glass half-empty, it's a glass that is half-full - He graduated with honors and was accepted in a School of Architecture at one of the top 5 schools in the nation. I write this not to brag, but to encourage those parents who are freaked out by the autism tag to have faith - I thank God every day for him. However, within 5 minutes of being on the interstate, we had a car without headlights on at night fly past us, weaving between lanes, never staying in a lane for more that 30 seconds, and we were afraid we'd see the driver later in an accident. So please can anybody tell me how an autonomous vehicle will respond to that type of driver? I'm amazed that Tesla charges like $5k for "enhanced autopilot", which they can turn on with a software switch, and they promote they are so far ahead of the game, when it's taken them years to even have wipers that sense the rain. Federal and State law will have to be changed dramatically for self-driving cars to EVER be legal. With a $60 Billion market cap, Tesla is selling a dream that is very far away. Perhaps when every car has similar technology, this stuff will work. So what are we to do? Tell everybody with a $2k beater that gets them back and forth to work that they'll have to purchase a new car? Should we just give them one? Give me a break - this is crap piled on crap. I feel sorry for the potential victims that might be subjected to injury or death because "we need autonomous cars". Right.

  • Sub-600 Sub-600 on Jan 23, 2018

    Again, another 75 & sunny scenario. Test these things in the snow belt too, the YouTube videos will be priceless. Or test them in neighborhoods where “citizens” purposely walk in the street and try to get hit. Why do you think every other tv ad is for a motor vehicle accident attorney? They practically throw themselves in front of cars in some areas around here. Getting hit by robot cars will be a cottage industry.

    • Brn Brn on Jan 23, 2018

      Minnesota is testing autonomous buses this winter.