GOOGLE'S SELF-DRIVING CAR UNIT, Waymo, has announced that it's going to let members of the public trial its driverless vehicles for the first time.
Waymo has been testing 100 of its self-driving vehicles on public roads for the last couple of months, and this week said that it plans to add an further 500 vehicles to its fleet and which it wants members of the public to test out.
Residents in the Phoenix metropolitan area can sign up now to take part in Waymo's 'Early Rider Programme', which will allow those who own enough spare pairs of trousers to take any number of free rides in Waymo's Lexus RX450h and Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
The company will subsequently analyse the typical routes these users take and how intent they are on using the service as the primary mode of transportation in a bid to ready its self-driving vehicles for a wider rollout.
There will be a human engineer behind the wheel in each vehicle, but Waymo says it will keep human invention to the minimum and will only take over the vehicle when it isn't able to conclude the path or nears an accident.
This presence of an engineer also means that households that apply to take part in the trial do not need driving licences, nor the physical capability to take control of the car.
"Over the course of this trial, we'll be accepting hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs who want to ride in and give feedback about Waymo's self-driving cars," Waymo's head, John Krafcik, said in a blog post.
"Rather than offering people one or two rides, the goal of this programme is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that's about twice the size of San Francisco."
The launch of this trial is a big deal for Waymo, which has spent the past few months embroiled in a legal battle with dodgy cab firm Uber. It claims that Waymo's former boss, Anthony Levandowsk, took trade secrets with him when he left to set up Otto and that this tech was now instrumental to the workings of Otto's own vehicles. µ
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