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November 3, 2021

Introducing the Waymo Driver to New York City’s streets

  • Company News
A white Waymo Vehicle driving under the Park Avenue Viaduct in New York City
A white Waymo Vehicle driving under the Park Avenue Viaduct in New York City

The Waymo Driver has tested in dozens of cities spanning a diverse range of climates and topographies. Starting tomorrow, we’ll build on these learnings as we begin to map in New York City for the first time.

New York City is the most densely populated city in the country, with bustling avenues, unusual road geometries, complex intersections, and constantly evolving layouts, and we’ve designed the Waymo Driver to handle these types of complex and dynamic activities that define city driving. Our vehicles will be manually operated by autonomous specialists at all times, to help us scale and advance our technology in support of our mission to make roads safer.

The weather also gives us unique opportunities to learn. The heavy rain and dense snowfall that we expect to encounter will build on the driving we’ve completed to date in the snow and rain, giving us more opportunities to assess the way our sensors perform in wet, cold conditions beyond our data augmentation and simulation testing. Experiencing icy, snowy conditions will allow continued improvement of the Waymo Driver in the real world, and we will apply those learnings across our entire fleet.

New Yorkers will begin to see Waymo vehicles driving in Manhattan this week, primarily south of Central Park. Our operations will extend down through the city to the Financial District and also out to a small section of New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel.

We’ll be manually driving with five hybrid Chrysler Pacificas on the street during daylight. Later, we’ll manually drive several of our zero-emission Jaguar I-PACEs equipped with our latest technology on the same streets in Manhattan, as we continue learning from NYC’s busy traffic and unique geometric features. The insights we’ll gain will help the Waymo Driver improve its ability to perceive and predict the actions of other road users in dense urban areas.

A map of where Waymo was driving during its 2021 road trip

Over the last several weeks, we’ve connected with many New York policymakers, regulators, industry leaders, and nonprofit groups to get their feedback, and we’re encouraged by the responses. For example:

  • Mayor-elect Eric Adams said: “Autonomous vehicles hold the promise to dramatically improve traffic flow and expand access to convenient and affordable transportation for millions of New Yorkers. I’m excited to welcome Waymo to New York so that one day we can have safe autonomous technology on our streets.”

  • Tech:NYC Executive Director Julie Samuels said: “The more information we gather about the way our city moves, the closer we get to creating a more efficient, sustainable, and safe mobility network. Tech:NYC is excited to welcome Waymo to New York to help us learn how our streets — from bike and bus lanes to highways and walkways — really work.”

  • Jose Hernandez, Advocacy Coordinator and President of United Spinal Association's New York City Chapter said: “We appreciate Waymo‘s commitment to strengthening access to autonomous vehicles for the masses, including individuals with disabilities. These are the first steps in bringing New York City into the future of transportation that we can all utilize.”

We are grateful for their support in our shared belief in improving mobility for more people and making it safer and easier to get people and things where they are going.