Any parent will tell you that being the human taxicab can be exhausting, stressful, and allows for little time for errands. To help with daily duties, Phoenix families will soon be able to receive a little help from Waymo, the former Google self-driving car project, and let the car do the driving while mom or dad sit back and catch up with the kids.
Today, Waymo announced an early rider program and the first public trial of their self-driving cars. Residents in the Phoenix metropolitan area can apply to use Waymo’s fleet of self-driving vehicles to do everything they would do on a daily basis. Waymo will be adding 500 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica vans to the fleet with a total of 600 on the road. But don't worry, in the initial stage of the program, Waymo will have a test driver at the wheel.
The company's goal is to obtain riders’ feedback such as rider experience, how they would use a self-driving car and learn how to shape the future of how our vehicles will work. In the latest report The State of Autonomous Vehicles, by Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter, there are over 22 automakers and 34 hardware/software companies helping to develop self-driving cars.
“2017 is set to push us even closer to science fiction,” Solis said. “And with each new startup, partnership, acquisition and technological breakthrough, we are witnessing a transportation renaissance that will affect every industry. So buckle your seat belt and get ready; it’s going to be an exciting ride.”
To date, Waymo has racked up almost 3 million miles of autonomous driving to date, over 1 billion miles of simulated driving in 2016 alone, they've developed four generations of self-driving vehicles and test drove in four cities.
For Phoenix metropolitan-area residents, Waymo is looking to learn from people with diverse transportation needs and they can apply for the early rider program here. Earlier this year, our team rode in a Waymo and here is what we thought about it.
Here's a closer look at the Waymo Car during their test run in Phoenix with the Governor of Arizona and interview with Jennifer Haroon, Waymo’s head of business, about the tech under the hood.