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Google’s Waymo asks the public to help test driverless cars

Google’s autonomous car division Waymo will allow members of the public to test its driverless cars for the first time as part of a new trial.

Hundreds Phoenix, Arizona residents will be testing out a fleet of 600 self-driving vehicles after the state pitched for the trial.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik laid out the firm’s plans in a blog post, where he explained the trial is already underway with “a handful of Phoenix, AZ residents… riding around in Waymo’s fleet of self-driving vehicles” over the last month.

Related: Who’s to blame when driverless cars get it wrong?

Now, Krafcik is urging residents of the city to register for the trial, during which they’ll be asked to provide feedback to the company.

He added: “The goal of this program is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that’s about twice the size of San Francisco.”

The program looks to be expanding quickly, with Waymo announcing it will be adding another 500 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to its fleet, to join the 100 self-driving Pacifica minivans it’s already tetsing on public roads.

Though it sounds as if participants in the latest tests will have access to completely autonomous cars, there will be a test driver in each of the self-driving vehicles to monitor developments and ensure the riders’ safety.

That does mean successful applicants won’t require a driving licence to take part in the trials, set to be carried out in the Arizona city following some aggressive lobbying from the state.

Krafcik also provided some updates on Waymo’s progress, explaining how the company has “racked up millions of miles of experience, teaching our cars advanced driving skills, and improving the performance of our software.”

He writes that Waymo is hoping to learn several things from this new public trial including “where people want to go in a self-driving car, how they communicate with our vehicles, and what information and controls they want to see inside”.

If you happen to be in Phoenix, you can register for the public trials at the official Waymo site now.

WATCH: Death by Driverless Car – Who’s at fault?

Let us know what you think of Waymo’s plans in the comments.

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