Say Hello to Waymo Driverless Cars in Austin

Steve Mahan, who is blind, got in a prototype vehicle in Austin and cruised around a typical neighborhood all by himself — no steering wheel, no pedals, no one else in the car.

Google’s self-driving car project is now Waymo, an independent company spinning out of Alphabet company.

And it has a major presence in Austin.

In fact, Waymo achieved a huge technical milestone in Austin on its path to independence. Unbeknownst to many until now, Waymo completed the world’s first fully self-driven ride on public roads in Austin.

Steven Mahan, who is blind, rode in a prototype vehicle in Austin and cruised around a neighborhood all by himself without a steering wheel, no pedals and no one else in the car. The ride took place in October of 2015.

“For nearly eight years, we’ve been working towards a future without the tired, drunk or distracted driving that contributes to 1.2 million lives lost on roads every year,” John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, wrote in a post on Medium. “Since 2009, our prototypes have spent the equivalent of 300 years of driving time on the road and we’ve led the industry from a place where self-driving cars seem like science fiction to one where city planners all over the world are designing for a self-driven future.”

“Today, we’re taking our next big step by becoming Waymo, a new Alphabet business,” Krafcik wrote. “Waymo stands for a new way forward in mobility. We’re a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.”

Google launched its self-driving car project in Austin in mid-2015. It plans to continue operating here now as Waymo. The company has published a series of monhtly reports from its experiences in Austin on Medium.

“As a company, Waymo’s next step will be to let people use our vehicles to do everyday things like run errands, commute to work, or get safely home after a night on the town,” according to a news statement.

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