Waymo’s system is currently designed so each vehicle operates only within pre-mapped zones under certain conditions. Passengers cannot select a destination outside of Waymo’s approved geography, and its software will not create a route that travels outside of a “geo-fenced” area which has been mapped in detail.
Waymo’s maps serve as crucial reference points for identifying any changes on the road so that Waymo can provide feedback to the system and the entire fleet of Waymo vehicles.
This helps ensure maximum safety for passengers and other road users until the time Waymo can operate safely anywhere in any condition.
Waymo’s ultimate goal is to develop fully self-driving technology that can take someone from A to B, anytime, anywhere, and in all conditions. Waymo will continue to expand its zones to bring self-driving technology to more people.
Before Waymo is introduced on the road, the mapping team uses sensors on test vehicles to create highly detailed 3D maps. These maps include road types, the distance and dimensions of the road itself, and other topographical features.
Waymo’s team then takes this data and adds other information relevant to traffic, such as the lengths of crosswalks and the locations of traffic lights and street signs.
Once on the road, Waymo is constantly cross-referencing its real-time sensor data with its on-board 3D map. If it detects a change in the roadway (e.g., a collision up ahead), Waymo can reroute itself and alert the operations center so that other vehicles in the fleet can avoid the area.