Waymo Brings Autonomous Cars to Los Angeles to Map the City

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【Summary】Waymo has hopes of lettings its autonomous vans give consumers ride around Los Angeles one day, but before that, it has to have accurate maps of the city.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Nov 18, 2019 5:05 AM PT
Waymo Brings Autonomous Cars to Los Angeles to Map the City

Waymo is expanding to new cities at a steady rate. The latest city to get a couple of Waymo's self-driving minivans is Los Angeles. Except the tech company's vans won't be driving on their own – they'll be busy mapping out the city for data purposes.

Waymo's In Los Angeles
The technology company made the announcement in a tweet, stating: "Starting this week, Angelenos might catch a glimpse of Waymo's cars on the streets of LA! Our cars will be in town exploring how Waymo's tech might fit into LA's dynamic transportation environment and complement the City's innovative approach to transportation."
The verdict's still out on whether Wyamo will share its data with the second most populous city in the United States. The company's Chrysler Pacifica minivans will be used to map out the city, more specifically the downtown area and the Miracle Mile. Safety drivers will manually be driving the minivans at all times. Once a 3D map is made, Waymo will let its minivan operate autonomously. Waymo, reportedly doesn't have any plans to launch an autonomous service in the city, but it doesn't make much sense to map out an entire city and not follow through with something.
It could have something to do with LA's Department of Transportation's utilization of a tool called Mobility Data Specification (MDS). It allows the DOT to track mobility devices that are being operated on the city's streets. E-scooter companies have to share data with the city or else they won't be able to receive the necessary permit to operate scooters in the city. Waymo might not be interested in sharing its data, so it might not want to set up a program in LA in an instance where autonomous cars could eventually fall under LA's MDS requirements.

Los Angeles Becomes Another One Testing Area
"We're in an early phase," said Alexis Georgeson, a Waymo spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times. "We're going to these different cities to learn. Driving in Los Angeles gives us the opportunity to learn in a new environment and understand different traffic patterns to advance our technology."
Waymo is the only company to get permission to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California. The company can even test its vehicles without a human safety driver behind the wheel.
Los Angeles becomes another city on Waymo's list of cities where it's testing. The company has a program in San Francisco, Michigan, Florida, and Washington state. Different cities serve different purposes, with San Francisco acting as its location for tight traffic, Michigan for snow, Florida for rain , and Washington for rain, too.

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