Waymo Seeks Permit to Test Fully-Autonomous Cars in California

It's only the second company to apply for such a permit.

Waymo is applying to test self-driving cars without human backup drivers in California, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. That would make the former Google self-driving car project the second entity to apply for a permit since the California Department of Motor Vehicles began accepting them April 2.

California recently changed its rules to allow autonomous cars to operate on public roads without human drivers onboard, but so far companies have been slow to take advantage of this. Only one company, the identity of which remains a mystery, applied for a testing permit before Waymo.

Waymo already operates self-driving cars without backup drivers on public roads in Arizona, which began allowing this before California. The company has also tested completely driverless cars on a private track in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The paper reports that Waymo driverless-car testing on public roads would start near parent Google’s Mountain View headquarters, and expand gradually as new areas are accurately mapped.

The California DMV has 10 days after applications are submitted to confirm if they are complete, and an indefinite amount of time after that to approve them. The rules also require companies to notify the specific cities or towns where they plan to test driverless cars. The San Francisco Chronicle confirmed that Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Los Altos had received these notices.

While the current rules only apply to unoccupied self-driving cars, California is reportedly considering expanding them to cover cars that carry passengers. Waymo plans to launch an autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Arizona, but it’s unclear if the company will do the same in its home state.