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Waymo fleet hits 7 million miles

by Justin King

The company has more than doubled its testing mileage since May 2017.

Waymo's fleet of self-driving cars has passed the seven-million-mile mark as the company prepares to launch its taxi service for the general public.

"What that means is at the six-million-mile mark we've driven 300 human lifetimes of adult driving," said Waymo business development chief Shaun Stewart at the recent Innovfest Unbound conference.

The company has been testing cars for nearly a decade. Operations have followed an exponential curve in the last three years, however, with the millionth mile reached in June 2015 and the three millionth mile in June 2017.

Waymo's apparent lead in the nascent industry has been further extended by billions of simulated miles. A fleet equivalent to 25,000 vehicles runs constantly in a virtual world to test many slight variations of certain scenarios encountered or expected in the real world. The company also has a private test track to help validate responses for high-risk encounters such as kids jumping out in front of the car or people rolling down the road laying on a skateboard.

With service expected to begin rolling out in limited markets later this year, Waymo recently signed a contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to secure up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans. The company will operate a diverse fleet to suit different rider needs or preferences, including 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace EVs.