Waymo Rolls Out First Phase of Commercial Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service
Waymo launched the next phase of its self-driving ride-hailing service in Phoenix today.
Photo via Waymo.
For now, only a few hundred people will have access to the Waymo One app and ride-hailing service, which will feature a safety driver during all rides. Vehicles will be available 24/7 and can be taken to several cities in the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert.
Riders will see a price estimate in the Waymo app before they request their ride.
Waymo officials said in a company blog post that they hope to make Waymo One available to more people as they add vehicles and service areas.
"There's a long journey ahead, but we believe that Waymo One will make the roads safer and easier for everyone to navigate," Waymo's CEO John Krafcik wrote in a Medium post.
Waymo will also continue its early rider program, which has been in operation in the Phoenix area since 2017. Unlike those who are part of the Waymo One program, early riders will be required to continually provide feedback to Waymo on their ride experiences.
Waymo, owned by Google parent Alphabet Inc., is also currently working on expanding its autonomous vehicle testing California's Bay Area.
What are your views on driverless/self-driving cars?
Please post your response(s) as I would like to know your views as well as any personal interaction you've had with these cars. I'm also positive that many other people would also be interested in whatever else you had to say/ care to contribute as well.
I know of at least 2 fatalities here in the USA where if the driver of the Driverless/ Self-Driving Cars had been paying attention, I believe both deaths could have been avoided.
From what I've read elsewhere, a self-driving car will always take the path of least resistance to minimize damage to itself (the car) and the so-called driver. So, if you are about to smash into the rear end of a cement mixer but the car determines that the right lane is clear (it did not see the cyclist for *whatever* reason, the system will immediately move the car into the right lane to avoid the cement mixer in its forward path, not really caring (nor noticing, in this case) the fact that there was a bicyclist in the right lane and the car would definitely hit the bike and the person on it.
However, the driver of the driverless/self-driving car would have very minimal physical injuries, if any, and his car would also sustain extremely minimum damage. So, the risk of hitting the extremely heavy cement mixer was avoided.
I have no idea whether the driverless car utilizes AI (Artificial Intelligence) software or not. I first encountered AI back in the late 1980s and honestly could not see any extreme benefits over using it vs. programming an app that would learn patterns of behaviors; select "favorites" - per a favorites type file, etc... I was in the dark as to what companies like my employer, E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Inc., were spending $100,000s/ year on to purchase AI software. What I know now is that within 5 years, the AI software was scrapped and the programmers and Systems Analysts were all back to work writing new programs to take the place of the AI software.
I certainly hope that things have changed for the better today.
Why someone would be in this position (the cement mixer/bicycle story) to begin with is not really relevant here. I can recall times in which I've had to swerve into the lane next to me to avoid an accident, but would have to say that there was -0- time to determine if there was a cyclist (or other) coming up the side/lane that I moved in to. I just thank God that all of my close-calls have worked out on my side with no damages nor injuries to anyone.
I think that self driving cars are a long ways away from being 100% approved by government, if they ever are sanctioned by the government for everyday use.
One thing that no one really seems to talk about is what happens when the self driving car breaks down "during flight".
It could be something simple - like a coolant hose ruptures -- this scenario would not immediately affect the performance of the car, but would within ~15 or so minutes or less as the engine temperature increases and engine seizure nears.
Or it could be a catastrophic failure - like a tire blow-out that causes the car to become uncontrollable at 70-80 miles per hour (or more - like 90 mph or even 100 mph - my favorite speed ranges on the Interstate Highways and Turnpikes).
Rarely are either of these scenarios deadly or super-costly. But with a self-driving car, both deadly and costly could be true. I don't know for example if a self-driving car would have extra maintenance features built into it that would do something like turn off the engine if it hits x-degrees to avoid a meltdown/seizure. I'm sure that there would be plenty of warnings that would bring an extreme overheat condition to the driver's attention before a complete engine shut-down (where you would lose power steering, power brakes and very likely airbags as well).
I was personally looking into that option because of my health issues, but not for now. These cars are simply not worth the risk. They will be good, but only once they are ready.
I genuinely believe that the idea is great and that it could be great once the mechanism is perfected, as for the tire-blowing, etc, I really think that is not the biggest issue, because there will probably be a unified set of parts that the manufacturers' will be able to set sensors in to prevent the damage and or crashes by either issuing warnings and implementing a safety mechanism like a killswitch it the warning has been ignored for three times.
The bigger issue is changing lanes, something coming across your path, because this is unpredictable, it can be a car, a truck, a van or something unpredictable that sensors cannot pick up. (It is not virtually possible to cover every single item that can occur there/come across one's path) and imagine if the driver was not very skilled or handicapped and could not maneuver the vehicle himself in time to avoid the crash...
I have been waiting for this day for a very, very long time.
I trust Waymo far, far, far more than I trust Tesla and Uber. I do not think the Tesla and Uber systems are safe. To me they were very rushed and inadequately tested, and they bring down the good reputation of Google and Waymo - who were so much more cautious - very unfairly.
The biggest difference - to me, part driving auto-driving cars should be illegal. Where the car drives itself, then suddenly hands back to the driver unexpectedly because it encountered something out of the ordinary. You'll never get the driver paying enough attention to ever make this safe. Complacency will always be an issue.
Waymo cars are different. Their test models didn't even have dual controls. They can handle ALL driving conditions safely and autonomously. Remarkably safely as well.
In my mind, if the car system isn't advanced enough to handle all driving situations, it isn't advanced enough to be allowed out in public like the Tesla cars were (and these Waymo cars will even still have a backup driver unlike the Tesla cars...).
I'd trust my life to the Waymo system, but absolutely not the Tesla or Uber one (although even those are probably technically safer than driving yourself if you stay alert). If I were nearby I would jump at the chance of testing these new taxis out.
Plus, before you get too fearful of a couple of deaths from self-driving cars, remember how many tens of thousands already die from car crashes. Any improvement - and computers are safer than humans at driving - is improvement. There will still be some deaths, but fewer, and that's still good.
Right now it's only offered on the Cadillac CT6, a full-size sedan.
Granted it only works on certain Interstate highways, but at least Cadillac is getting in to the hands-free car. It has an iris scanner so you can't read a newspaper while driving although around here, quite a few do so without Super Cruise! No idea how they do it in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Interstates.
I myself prefer to cruise the highways at a bristling 92 miles an hour. It is just right and I'm not the only one at 90+. Speed limits are 65-70 mph, depending on the road you're on.
I could not imagine letting the car drive. That takes all of the fun, rest and relaxation out of driving.
Self-driving cars are way beyond my point of acceptance. I don't even like Cortana/Siri, etc., let alone "smart home" devices. All it takes is one fouled update and what could happen? How about winter driving with sub-freezing temperatures, snow blown under the hood and melting on the computer components? (Ok, presumably encased in a protective shield but still . . .)