Waymo takes hands off the wheels in latest driverless vehicle testing

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A self-driving car company announced it will begin sending its Chandler fleet out on the road with no human in the driver’s seat.

This next step taken by car development company Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., means Chandler residents part of the company’s testing program will ride in the backseat alongside a Waymo engineer. The engineer will monitor the vehicle, but driving the car will be left to technology.

Jay Tibshreany, Mayor for the City of Chandler, say the addition of autonomous vehicles onto the roads has been a fairly simple process. Waymo began testing in Chandler earlier this year.

>>Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon “self-driving cars enter the next phase of testing in chandler. And the phoenix girls chorus will join us for a music performance in studio. Those stories next, on "Arizona Horizon." >good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Paperwork was filed today for an initiative that would require disclosing the "source" of all Arizona political donations over $25,000, including donations funneled through dark-money groups. Former attorney general Terry Goddard is leading the effort, which needs nearly 226,000 signatures collected by early July to get on the 2018 ballot. And state senator Kimberly Yee announced today that she's running for treasurer. Yee joins fellow republican and current corporation commissioner tom foresee looking to succeed Treasurer Jeff Dewitt, who is not running for re-election. Yee is the first Asian-American woman elected to the state legislature, and if elected she'd be the first Asian-American as state treasurer. WAYMO recently announced the start of a new testing phase for self-driving vehicles. The tests will take place in chandler and they will "not" include the need for someone in the driver’s seat. Joining us now to talk about all this is the mayor of chandler, Jay Tibshreany.

Ted Simons: Good to see you again.

Jay Tibshreany: Good to be back.

Ted Simons: What is WAYMO?

Jay Tibshreany: It's what Google set up to sponsor the technology. They want to monetize it and turn it into a profit center.

Ted Simons: We have WAYMO. There is a new phase of driver’s license cars. We have seen them all over the place. It looks weird having the person behind the steering wheel. It's not going to happen anymore, is it?

Jay Tibshreany: It's going to happen, but the announcement by WAYMO, Chandler, Arizona was the first place autonomous car was driven autonomously, a person in the backseat. They did it in a west Chandler neighborhood in October. They kept it under wraps, told me they were doing it and unveiled it at the conference in Portugal. They are phasing into doing more of that. Chandler continues to be the headquarters for operations in Arizona.

Ted Simons: Are they sitting in the passenger seat, in the backseat? Where is the human that will be there?

Jay Tibshreany: The testing -- they'll have the person in the driver seat or front seat. When they want to go autonomous, that person will sit in the back. If you are driving down the road and see the person in the backseat, the person is driving autonomously without human intervention.

Ted Simons: When did the car hit the road? When will we see it around Chandler?

Jay Tibshreany: They are doing testing, elaborate testing beyond my comprehension. The testing continues with WAYMO. How it ends up further into technology, I'm not sure. Why Chandler? The streets are big. There are left turns. There are concerns with no left turns. Does it help with pedestrians on chant letter streets? Why Chandler, why not Chandler? When they decided we needed a fourth test site, right now they are in Kirkwood, Washington and Austin, Texas. They came and interviewed mayors interested in this. They liked what was happening in Chandler. Obviously, the Intel plants are infusion, garden soft. They picked Chandler because we are on the cutting edge of information. We were proud to be the home headquarters.

Ted Simons: Did any laws or ordinances have to change to accommodate the driverless vehicles?

Jay Tibshreany: No. We have coordination between police and fire. We work closely with WAYMO on public safety, but we didn't need to change the law.

Ted Simons: How has it been so far?

Jay Tibshreany: When the mayor hasn't received calls, it's going good. I have had a few citizens say what is going on with the car driving around town. That's the WAYMO vehicle.

Ted Simons: Do you feel like a Guinea pig?

Jay Tibshreany: I'm glad we are reaping the benefits. Publications and news channels throughout the world, this is where we are heading. Some of the technology has made its way into cars marketed into the public. you see the commercial where the car stops on its own, it's driverless technology. It's for the consumer now.

Ted Simons: Drivers license vehicles, on arrows, no problem. The idea of turning, it's an issue. Have you heard that?

Jay Tibshreany: I have not. If it's an issue, I'm sure they'll work it out.

Ted Simons: So far nothing much has happened. There was a fender bender one time a couple of months ago. It wasn't the driverless car's fault. It was the human driver in the other car. They have been good to work with.

Jay Tibshreany: Really can't tell me when the fully autonomous cars are going to be zipping up and down Arizona avenue.

Jay Tibshreany: I'll get a call and they'll say, I want to talk to you tomorrow.

Ted Simons: Have you gotten calls regarding Amazon?

Jay Tibshreany: We did a proposal for the Amazon headquarters second in the United States. Currently they are in the state of Washington. This headquarter will have 50,000 people. It's a new city, basically. Chandler, with our reputation, we did submit. Why not submit? We are an innovative technology hub city. We did submit. I think first quarter 2018, we'll hear from Amazon. it's an intense competition. There are a few sites in the valley, they are looking at. Ours one of them, Tempe, maybe a couple of others on the west side of town. If it comes into Arizona, we'll be in the running. Everyone will benefit in it's located in Arizona. We'll benefit. There will be spinoff opportunities for all of the communities for all of that facility.

Ted Simons: A major point was mass transit nearby. Is there plan for light rail in, near, around Chandler?

Jay Tibshreany: Yes. We have to work with them on that. We are in the middle of a study with light rail to Chandler. We are looking at that. That's part of the equation.

Ted Simons: Any announcements to be made for Amazon?

Jay Tibshreany: I don't. they are brilliant on this. They have received worldwide press on this. Everybody talks about it every day. We get a lot of press inquiries in Chandler. They are pretty ingenious. They'll do it on their schedule.

Ted Simons: If they drive up in a passenger, driverless car, that will be a hint?

Jay Tibshreany: I think they like Chandler because we have both of their facilities in Chandler. We feel we have a lot going for us.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Jay Tibshreany: Nice to be here.

Jay Tibshreany: Mayor, City of Chandler

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