Waymo opens self-driving automobile exams to some San Francisco residents

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The Jaguar I-Pace with Waymo Autonomous Electric Vehicle (EV) will be unveiled during an event in New York on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.

Mark Kauzlarich | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Waymo, owned by Alphabet, is asking San Francisco residents to test their self-driving cars in the city they hope will be their second market.

The company said in a blog post on Tuesday that it is launching a research-based program called “Trusted Tester”. Residents can sign in to the company’s Waymo One app. Those who are accepted can welcome an all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicle and later provide feedback on their driving experiences.

The company said it is using the testers to improve the service. “From using the Waymo One app to picking up and dropping off and even driving, we receive valuable feedback from our drivers that enables us to refine our product offering as we improve our service,” the blog post reads.

According to The Verge, drivers will have to sign nondisclosure agreements to participate and human drivers will be behind the wheel as a backup.

Waymo began as Google’s self-driving car project that began testing its technology about a decade ago. It later became a standalone company within Google’s parent company Alphabet and began public testing in the Phoenix metropolitan area in 2017. Then in 2020 it introduced a full self-driving taxi service in some parts of that area. Driving in other locations around the country but has yet to be officially rolled out to other markets outside of Phoenix.

The announcement comes as some employees are reportedly frustrated with the company’s slow pace of expansion. Several Waymo employees have left in the past few months, including the former CEO.

The company didn’t immediately respond to questions about how many testers it will accept or for how long.

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