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Waymo self-driving vehicles head to Texas, New Mexico

Waymo said it plans to focus on commercial routes in the two states.

Waymo self-driving semi truck
Look for these big rigs in Texas and New Mexico now.
Waymo

Waymo is on the move once again. Long focused on Arizona and the metro Phoenix area, the Alphabet subsidiary said on Thursday that it's taking its self-driving vehicle talents to Texas and New Mexico.

According to the announcement made via Twitter, Waymo plans to focus its doings in the two states on commercial routes. Waymo not only operates its self-driving Chrysler Pacificas, but also its long-haul semi trucks. The routes Waymo eyes may unlock more transportation solutions as the company starts sending its autonomous vehicles on commercial trips.

The autonomous Pacificas will tackle the mapping portion of things before Waymo sends vehicles out to drive autonomously, the company told Roadshow, and things will focus on I-10, I-20 and I-45. Right now, the Waymo One ride-hailing service won't be offered in the new areas, Waymo added in a statement. Currently, the service only operates at a small scale in the Phoenix area and is not open to the public.

The news of the expansion comes after a big year in 2019. The company previously said it would start sending its self-driving vehicles out to pick up riders without a human backup driver onboard. It's a crystal-clear sign of confidence in the firm's technology.

Still, there are big questions. These states are often warm, dry and don't see a ton of precipitation, though Texas weather could toss Waymo a curveball. If we ever want to see autonomous vehicles even start to become a mainstream reality, the company will need to prove themselves outside of warm, dry weather. Waymo has started testing in cold, snow and ice in Michigan as of 2017. Surely, that kind of testing will be crucial to creating sensors for all kinds of weather.

Originally published Jan. 23, 7:35 a.m. PT.
Update, 1:39 p.m.: Adds statement and more information from Waymo.

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