Waymo is gearing up to map the island of Manhattan in New York in great detail, despite the firm having no authorization to drive its cars in autonomous mode in the city. This experiment will be used to better tailor its automatic driving system to the dense traffic typical of large cities.
During the month of November, Waymo will start mapping New York, the most densely populated city in the United States. The idea is to record and analyze the particular road geometry of Manhattan, in order to improve Waymo Driver, the firm's autonomous driving system.
Initially, five Chrysler Pacifica cars will drive through the streets of the city, driven manually because vehicles are not yet allowed to drive in autonomous mode in New York. Then, several Jaguar I-PACE vehicles equipped with the latest Waymo technologies will take over, so that the system will eventually be able to improve its ability to perceive and predict the actions of other road users in these particularly dense urban areas.
The first such outing will take place in Lower Manhattan, below Central Park, before gradually moving up the Hudson River and even into a small section of New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel. Waymo is also counting on the harsh weather conditions as winter approaches, with heavy rain and even snow, to evaluate the quality of its sensors in cold and wet conditions.
Waymo, a division of Alphabet, has been working on autonomous mobility for more than 10 years now, bringing cars and trucks equipped with the company's technology to the roads, mainly in the United States.