To date, Waymo vehicles have been operating on public roads with a test driver at the wheel.
That doesn't mean that there won't be cars operating outside of these geofenced areas with a safety driver behind the wheel or that Waymo has outright won the driverless auto race.
About 100 of the company's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans are now driving around Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix, without a human test driver-a move that catapults Waymo ahead of its competitors.
Earlier this week Waymo, Google's driverless vehicle arm, said it would start offering lifts to the public in driverless vans "in the next few months".
CEO John Krafcik confirmed the program while delivering a speech at a conference in Portugal, with a Waymo blog post shortly following his Tuesday, Nov. 7 remarks.
For now, these fully self-driving minivans-sans human test driver-are limited to a defined "geo-fenced" area.
Waymo's vehicles will now be able to take people who signed up to be early testers of the service anywhere in the greater Phoenix area, which the company says will soon comprise an area larger than that of Greater London.More news: Don't Use the Calculator on iOS 11.1
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately comment on Tuesday but said in September previous year that conventionally designed vehicles that can be operated autonomously faced no specific federal legal barrier. The self-driving cars are completing all aspects of driving however, such as the more complicated left-hand turns.
The company is also getting ready to initiate its first commercial driverless taxi service.
THE DRIVERLESS vehicle is edging closer to a showroom near you.
"Because we see so much potential in shared mobility, the first way people will get to experience Waymo's fully self-driving fully self-driving technology will be a driverless service", Krafick said.
Everything in a Waymo, says Krafcik, is "designed and built for full autonomy".
Waymo claims to have already carried out 3 million miles of testing autonomous cars on public roads.
"This research and development taking place in our community will ultimately make our roads safer and provide new freedom for those unable to drive". Over the next few months, a few hundred of Waymo's early test riders will be able to hail these completely driverless cars to take them to and from work and other locations on a daily basis. "I look forward to a continued partnership with Waymo as they continue to develop this technology here in Chandler and throughout the region". Industry insiders, or anyone tracking the company's recent moves, likely have predicted the company would pull human test drivers out of its vehicles before the end of 2017.