A ride in a Waymo driverless car

TechCrunch contributor Ed Niedemeyer gets a ride in Waymo’s driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. The company is starting to match members of its early rider program with driverless rides as it starts scaling up its robotaxi service.

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[Music] We have been doing driverless testing in Phoenix Since 2017 we have done it at small Scale with a few riders but early fall We have really begun to slowly and Responsibly ramp up the service they can Get matched with a fully driverless car Where there is no train driver in the Car at all we have been at this for over Ten years now on public roads are driven For 10 million plus miles we have done 10 billion miles of simulation and the Simulation is not only things that we Have seen on the road not only synthetic Scenarios we have created but also Situations that we have made more Adversarial than what we observed for Example inserting cyclists and Motorcyclists into a scene and through a Combination of multiple methods we have Reached experience and confidence to be Able to do this hi this is Timo with my My riders support I just wanted to Quickly walk a meteor driverless ride And let you know this ride will be free If you have any questions or concerns You can press the Help button in front Of you at any time to connect with Riders support you have any questions For me while I’m on the line no I think I think I’m just sort of taking in the Experience right now okay well I hope You have a great trip and again the help

– in front of you if you have any Questions ok thank you so much we’re Constantly monitoring data both from the Test driver course and the simulation as Well as our driverless cars and our Ongoing variety of testing anytime we Find information that requires us to Revisit a few assumptions we will always Put safety first and take the requisite Actions there are a couple of areas that We had to pay special attention to for Example when law enforcement or first Responders have to interact with a Completely empty car so that’s an entire Area that we designed and tested but Also collaborated with first responders In the local area tested for example Whether or not we are able to detect all Kinds of sirens and flashing lights but Also how a police officer in an Emergency can take over the car if they Need to it was a little bit more of like Sort of a classic design problem when we Had all of this information and we had To create a hierarchy of that Information so what’s most important and Then how does color map to what’s most Important and so when we see like nearby A desk Cyclists those are rendered as whites Sort of laser points on a dark Background because the contrast there is The highest and they stand out the most There were some practical considerations

As well we we really want to go for a Lean back experience when you’re in the Car so we want to make sure that that UI Isn’t in your face and distracting and So that’s why there’s a dark color Scheme to it and the colors are a bit Subdued it’s taken years really to sort Of understand the vast number of Scenarios out there where people have Different information needs so I might Be going to work in the morning there’s No construction I’m coming home there Now is a construction site that’s popped Up and does the car understand that Again we’re trying to reinforce the car Does understand those changing road Conditions and we’ve been pleasantly Surprised it’s one of the examples Unprompted in our user research that People often cite the fact that like hey There are 14 traffic cones on the side Of the road here and I can see those in The passenger interface and they’re very Impressed that the again to that level Of detail around what the car is picking Up [Music] All that learning we want to build into The product as we are learning them Refine our flows to find our passenger Screens refine our riders support and But also in terms of how the product Experiences for example any feedback They may have about how their outing is

Their preferences on which side of Street they would like to be dropped off On if they want to be dropped off right In front of Walmart or slightly off it Where folks aren’t just exiting with all Of their stuff from Walmart so a variety Of these I think that is product Refinements we continue to do and we are In a unique position to do that because We’re not just asking users what they Want we’re actually seeing them in the Fabric of their daily lives we are Responsibly and thoughtfully wrapping This up so right now that ramp up has Already begun and as we are able to Incorporate all of this feedback I see It as the natural progression that more And more of the rides will be on Completely driverless cars [Music] [Music]

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