DETROIT (AP) — A self-driving car company created by Google is pulling the human backup driver from behind the steering wheel.

Waymo is testing vehicles on public roads with only an employee in the back seat. The testing started Oct. 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona. It's a major step toward vehicles driving themselves without human backups on public roads.

Waymo, which is owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, is in a race with other companies such as Delphi, General Motors, Intel, Uber, Lyft and Apple to bring autonomous vehicles to the public. The companies say the robot cars are safer than human drivers because they don't get drowsy, distracted or drunk.

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