Column: Will self-driving cars make L.A.'s world-famous traffic even worse?
Waymo’s self-driving cars arrived in Los Angeles last fall. They’re still in test mode, and each one has a safety driver while the company awaits approval to operate commercially. It’s the third major market that the Google sister company has entered, after Phoenix, where autonomous vehicles can now be summoned by consumers using the Waymo One app, and its home turf of San Francisco, where test vehicles are now truly driverless.
There are just a few dozen Waymo robotaxis in the Los Angeles area right now, according to the company, in places such as Santa Monica, Koreatown and the Miracle Mile. Few cities stand to be affected by self-driving cars as dramatically as L.A., home of infinite congestion and two-hour commutes, where the utterance of “traffic” and a shrug can absolve you of any tardy arrival, and where the same horrifying photo of backed-up Thanksgiving traffic on the 405 goes viral every year because it never stops being true.
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