Waymo’s ambitious plans for high-speed taxis could be holding it back

In November 2017, Waymo announced that it would start taking drivers out of the driver’s seat of its prototype self-driving vehicles. A year later, Waymo still seems to be far away from completing that process.

In fact, last week the Information’s Amir Efrati reported that Waymo may actually have moved backward recently.

“Within the past month or so, due to concerns about safety, the Alphabet company put so-called safety drivers back behind the wheel of its most advanced prototypes, ending a year-long period in which those people generally sat in the passenger or back seat,” Efrati wrote.

We asked Waymo about this, and a spokesperson dismissed the report as nothing new, saying that the company regularly changes the mix of cars with and without safety drivers.

A recent Bloomberg story reported that when Waymo officially launches its driverless taxi service later this month, “there will be backup drivers in some cars.” The Washington Post reported on Friday that Waymo is still using safety drivers “for most rides.”