Waymo is to start mapping operations in New York City, although there has been no confirmation of when it will begin autonomous trials in the city. According to the company, the mapping operation will help train the Waymo Driver system using city data. NYC’s often adverse weather also gives the company unique opportunities to learn. The heavy rain and dense snowfall its vehicles are expected to encounter will provide an opportunity to assess how the sensors perform in wet, cold conditions beyond those produced by its data augmentation and simulation testing.
New Yorkers will begin to see Waymo vehicles primarily operating south of Central Park. The operations will extend down through the city to the Financial District and also out to a small section of New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel.
The company’s blog states, “We’ll be manually driving with five hybrid Chrysler Pacificas on the street during daylight. Later, we’ll manually drive several of our zero-emission Jaguar I-PACEs equipped with our latest technology on the same streets in Manhattan, as we continue learning from NYC’s busy traffic and unique geometric features. The insights we’ll gain will help the Waymo Driver improve its ability to perceive and predict the actions of other road users in dense urban areas.”
NYC Mayor-elect Eric Adams added, “Autonomous vehicles hold the promise to dramatically improve traffic flow and expand access to convenient and affordable transportation for millions of New Yorkers. I’m excited to welcome Waymo to New York so that one day we can have safe autonomous technology on our streets.”