Waymo is now testing fully autonomous vehicles in Phoenix.
An interesting comment in an article from The Atlantic: _____________________________
Humans don’t need much help to believe in a machine’s capabilities. Waymo, the company that emerged from Google’s self-driving-car project, has come to the position that there should be no intermediate steps between a car you drive yourself and a fully autonomous vehicle, because as soon as humans believe that a car (or a robot) has the slightest autonomy, they overestimate its capabilities. In early testing, a Google employee even climbed halfway into the back seat while the experimental software was driving on the highway. After watching enough video of how people in the driver’s seat behaved while the car was driving, the Google team set its sights on pure autonomy. Humans could not be trusted, because they were too trusting.
With Waymo in the driver’s seat, fully self-driving vehicles can transform the way we get around
Two years ago, we completed the world’s first fully self-driving trip on public roads, when Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, traveled from a park to a doctor’s office without anyone in the driver’s seat. This ride offered a glimpse into a fully self-driving future?—?where roads are safer, commuting is less stressful, and everyone can get around, regardless of driving ability. Since that ride, we’ve been working to bring fully self-driving technology to more people, in more places.
After more than eight years of development, we’re taking the next step toward unlocking the potential of fully self-driving technology. Starting now, Waymo’s fully self-driving vehicles?—?our safest, most advancedvehicles on the road today?—?are test-driving on public roads, without anyone in the driver’s seat. To date, Waymo vehicles have been operating on public roads with a test driver at the wheel. Now, in an area of the Phoenix metro region, a subset of our fleet will operate in fully autonomous mode, with Waymo as the sole driver. Over time, we’ll cover a region that’s larger than the size of Greater London, and we’ll add more vehicles as we grow.
We prepared for this next phase by putting our vehicles through the world’s longest and toughest ongoing driving test. Since we began as a Google project in 2009, we’ve driven more than 3.5 million autonomous miles on public roads across 20 U.S. cities. At our private test track, we’ve run more than 20,000 individual scenario tests, practicing rare and unusual cases. We’ve multiplied all this real world experience in simulation, where our software drives more than 10 million miles every day. In short: we’re building our vehicles to be the most experienced driver on the road. Finally, all our vehicles are equipped with the unique safety features necessary for full autonomy, including backup steering, braking, computer and power that are capable of bringing the vehicle to a safe stop, if needed.
With Waymo in the driver’s seat, we can reimagine many different types of transportation, from ride-hailing and logistics, to public transport and personal vehicles, too. We’ve been exploring each of these areas, with a focus on shared mobility. By giving people access to a fleet of vehicles, rather than starting with a personal ownership model, more people will be able to experience this technology, sooner. A fully self-driving fleet can offer new and improved forms of sharing: it’ll be safer, more accessible, more flexible, and you can use your time and space in the vehicle doing what you want.
That’s why the first application of our fully self-driving technology will be a Waymo driverless service. Over the next few months, we’ll be inviting members of the public to take trips in our fully self-driving vehicles. Participants in our early rider program will be amongst the first to experience these fully self-driving rides, using our vehicles to commute to work, take the kids to school, or get home from a night out. When fully self-driving vehicles become part of people’s everyday routine, we can move closer to our goal of making transportation safe and easy for everyone.
For more details on how Waymo has prepared to put fully self-driving cars on public roads, see our Safety Report.