California is indeed one of the best places to deploy Self-Driving Cars. Most of the Self-Driving Car companies have already begun deploying their Self-Driving Cars on the roads of California.
Last year saw a lot of Self-Driving Car companies deploy their cars in California. To name of a few, Waymo had recently received a permit to deploy their cars in California. Cruise, Uber, and Tesla already have their Self-Drivings Cars on the roads of California. Last December, Zoox was selected to the California PUC Program.
There is definitely an increasing trend line on the behavior of these companies to move towards California – for both testing and commercial deployment. The main reason for this interest is due to the fact that California offers a lot of advantages for the Self-Driving Niche to thrive. Some of which are given below –
California is characterized by some of the most densely populated traffic routes in the country. These densely populated roads can act as one of the best ‘Stress Test Tracks’ for companies wishing to perfect their Self-Driving Technology. Exposing their test cars to the toughest and most congested roads will help these Self-Driving Systems to learn and improve their algorithms in the most effective manner.
Also, California is densely populated, not just in terms of the number of human lives, but also from an infrastructural point of view. The city is pretty much packed with buildings. This infrastructural packing produces a lot of twists and turns in the street roads. These combined with the dense traffic filled roads offers further adds upon the challenges faced by Self-Driving Cars in the process of 3-D mappings. California is also characterized by the largest number of freeways in the country.
More Passengers for Self-Driving Cars
More than 1000 companies currently reside in the Silicon Valley of California. Most of the employees in these companies prefer to be transported by Public or Joint Office Commute. Driving to the office on a daily basis can be hectic and boring, especially when the traffic conditions are unfavorable.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik was once seen as making a similar comment– ” You ask a room full of people, Do you love to Drive? most people would actually raise their hands. But when the question is asked in a slightly different manner – Do you love driving on your commute, most people are gonna keep their hands down”.
All these people who rely on the public or shared commute to offices are actually potential customers for the Self-Driving Car Companies. The test cars could actually pick up these people from their homes and drop them to the office. This would help these autonomously navigating cars to have more test rides with actual people. Apart from increasing the number of test rides, this step will help to induce confidence in the minds of the people regarding the safety of Self-Driving Cars. A similar approach was implemented by Waymo in Arizona as well.
Exposure to Global Business and Technological Frameworks
Being a global hub for some of the biggest Technical and Business companies in the world, California provides a wide spectrum of opportunities to the Self-Driving Car Companies. Some of these benefits include Inter-Company Collaborations, Increased Funding Opportunities, Infrastructural Setup, and Brilliant Talent Pool.
Home to some of the Best and Brightest
The Californian Silicon Valley currently hosts some of the best and brightest minds in the world. Setting up offices in Silicon Valley will help these companies broaden their radar in recruiting people with the intensive expertise in Business and Technology. Having a network of the most technical and business savvy people are an added benefit to any company. This is something which directly influences the performance of the company.
The Name ‘California’
The name California has its own glamour associated with it, may that be in the United States alone or in the entire world. Receiving permits for deploying their Self-Driving Cars in California for either testing or commercial purposes adds definitely adds some points to the brand value. This in-turn directly converts to increased Funding and Collaboration Opportunities for these companies.
CPUC’s Drivered AV Passenger Service
California does provide assistance and support to the Self-Driving Car Companies. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had recently implemented the “Drivered AV Passenger Service”. This pilot program allows the companies developing Self-Driving Cars to deploy their Autonomous Vehicles (AV) for carrying passengers in real-time. The permit, however, is governed by a set of rules.
Zoox, a Self-Driving Startup was the first company to have been accepted into this program. Such programs to boost the growth of Self-Driving Technology in California form yet another reason that pulls these companies into California.