Waymo announced two new research and development facilities to help it advance its Waymo Driver autonomous driving system across multiple vehicle platforms and environments.
Waymoe working with the Transportation Research Center to co-develop what it says is a first-of-its-kind testing environment that will model a dense urban environment, including heavy-duty vehicles, and it's opening a research and development facility in Menlo Park, California, to focus on advancing its fifth-generation Waymo Driver on Class 8 trucks.
The company said that together, these new facilities will enable it to further advance the latest generation of the fully autonomous Waymo Driver across multiple vehicle platforms, including the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace and Class 8 trucks, while scaling up testing programs and operations across a diverse set of geographies and driving environments.
The TRC facility, in East Liberty, Ohio, will model a dense urban environment and enable Waymo to test real-world challenges that are difficult to replicate on public roads. The space will be built for Waymo’s requirements, with access to other assets at TRC, including tracks specifically made for truck testing.
A second R&D center, in Menlo Park will begin operations in early 2021. At this facility, Waymo engineers will focus on advancing its fifth-generation Waymo Driver for Class 8 trucks. Additionally, this facility will help accommodate Waymo’s growing trucking team and fleet of test vehicles, as the company continues to expand its team in the Bay Area.
These new facilities will complement Waymo’s existing R&D centers, the company said in a statement. Waymo already has a comprehensive testing and validation program that includes closed course testing, simulation testing, and public road testing with vehicle operators. This includes a closed-course testing facility at Castle Air Force Base, Merced, California, complete with a mock urban center redesigned for Waymo’s testing needs. It includes everything from high-speed roads and suburban driveways to railroad crossings and roundabouts. At Castle, Waymo stages complex or rare scenarios in a safe environment to repeatedly run autonomous vehicle tests with different variables. This allows Waymo engineers to prepare Waymo Driver to handle challenges on the road, evaluate the system’s performance, and validate new software before it’s released to the company’s captive, self-driving fleet.