After announcing the benefits of its autonomous “driver” (that’s what they call it), Waymo wants to take a new evolutionary leap by offering its autonomous car service for individuals in San Francisco. As they will be part of a test, it will be at no cost to them.
One of the greatest specialists in autonomous driving (level 5) is Waymo. Only between 2019 and 2020 they accumulated more than 10 million kilometers without fault in any traffic accident. What’s more, they even carried out simulations based on real accidents to check their effectiveness.
In March Waymo reported that 91 simulations of 72 real traffic accidents that occurred in Chandler (Arizona) during 2008 to 2017 were carried out – their cars were not involved. Of those 91 simulations, Waymo’s autonomous “driver” would have avoided or reduced the consequences of 88 accidents, the rest had no material time to brake.
On Tuesday 24, the opening of the “Waymo One Trusted Tester” program was announced on the Waymo corporate blog, a door-to-door transportation pilot test in San Francisco. It is an invitation to the public to participate in the tests of the Jaguar i-PACE that go around the coastal city.
They will not be – technically speaking – “guinea pigs.” Keep in mind that Waymo has been doing the same, take people from one place to another, in Phoenix (Arizona) since 2017. Although there is always a human driver ready to take the wheel at any moment, the journeys have been autonomous.
Specifically, since October 2020 Waymo has made tens of thousands of trips of this type. We have to understand Waymo cars as if they were VTC, it is the same as they call in those parts “ride hailing”, like the one that gets into a taxi or an Uber or Lyft car.
The company is interested in the experience of use of the passenger-testers, including the chapter on the accessibility. That is, there will be participants in the program with disabilities, so your opinion is very important in order to improve the service before its commercial deployment on a large scale.
According to Waymo, the company has driven autonomously more than anyone in the State of California, accumulating invaluable field experience. The testing program was already open internally for city employees, so they just make it a little more public than it was.
Although anyone can register, at the moment Waymo will filter the candidates and they will be approved in the coming weeks. Obviously, participation has no cost for passengers, who will go free everywhere as long as the service allows it and within a certain area of influence.
San Francisco is not a particularly easy city to move around. Anyone who has been there or seen enough movies knows the bumps, a little more chaotic traffic, trams, and one-way streets. Compared to a smoother city like Phoenix, it certainly is different.
In the future Waymo will offer a ‘robotaxis’ service to transport people from one place to another in cities without even the need for a human driver to deal with problems. The autonomous ‘driver’ is in its fifth generation, and when it hits the streets it will only be quite evolved.
The taxi driver / chauffeur trade is doomed in the long run to disappear as we now understand it, like other intensely manual low-skilled professions. It will survive when the human driver contributes a greater value, such as luxury VTC, tour guides, care for children, the elderly or the disabled, etc.
But before getting to that point, autonomous driving has to be tried and tested. According to Waymo, your AI driver is safer than any human and is not at fault for accidents, abides by all traffic regulations and can be trusted. San Francisco is one more step in that career.