Waymo Starts Testing Robotaxis in Atlanta

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Key Takeaways

  • Waymo is now testing its robotaxis in Atlanta.
  • Humans will drive the cars to collect data and understand the city.
  • The company plans driverless testing later on.

Waymo has begun testing its robotaxis in Atlanta, expanding its East coast footprint.

A spokesperson for the Alphabet-owned company confirmed to TechCrunch that human drivers would operate cars in the city to both collect map data and get used to its streets. Full self-driving without a backup driver will come later, Waymo said.

The Waymo test in Atlanta is the latest in a string of East coast deployments. The brand started testing its modified Jaguar I-Pace EVs in Buffalo, New York last November, and began gathering map data in Washington, D.C. earlier this April. The company first set foot in New York City in November 2021.

Much of Waymo’s focus has revolved around central and western cities in the US. It has offered paid rides through its One service in the Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco areas, for instance. Staff in Austin started taking self-driving trips last month.

Waymo’s expansion to Atlanta isn’t surprising, as TechCrunch noted. Like other states, Georgia has few regulations for driverless vehicles. There are few barriers to the company launching full robotaxi operations, and it’s more a question of technical readiness than local approval.

The Atlanta entry comes as chief Waymo rival Cruise has only just resumed driving following a pedestrian collision in San Francisco last October. The GM firm froze driverless car use across the US, and California banned it from driving in the state. While Cruise is addressing those issues and expected to return to service, its competitive gap with Waymo is only getting wider.