As part of what seems to be a push to prep the general public for the acceptance of self-driving taxis — presumably because the tech is now nearly there for the firm — Waymo has released a new video meant to give people an idea of what it’s like to ride in one.
This video release follows on months of work in Arizona whereby the company has been testing self-driving vehicles without drivers/engineers of any kind being present in the front of the car (they’re sitting in the back) — those tests began back in October. The company is clearly now getting ready to rollout this testing program to the general public in the area.
Speaking more broadly — of the company’s new Chrysler Pacifica minivan setup which was launched last January — the company has now logged over 5 million miles (8.05 million kilometers) of travel with the system. So, it’s effectively proven — to a degree — at this point.
Reuters provides more:
“A Gallup poll published last week found that 54% of the 3,297 US respondents said they were ‘unlikely’ to use self-driving cars, with 59% saying they would feel uncomfortable riding in one. The survey was conducted in September and October.
“Large tech companies, big automakers and well-funded startups have been testing such cars, but for the most part real passengers have not yet been added to the mix. Experts believe self-driving cars used in fleets for ride hailing services are among the most economically viable ways to deploy such technology broadly. The state of Arizona has no restrictions on self-driving cars, which has made it a key testing ground for the technology.
“Waymo said in November that members of the public using a ride-hailing app would be able to ride in its fleet of minivans in ensuing months. At first, a Waymo employee would accompany the passengers in the backseat, but eventually they will travel alone. The company has been testing its cars in Arizona with an employee in the back seat and no one at the wheel since October.”
While it’s not clear what sort of timeline will be followed, Waymo will be rolling out its new self-driving taxi services in other parts of the country before too long.
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