Inside The City Where Waymo Tests Self-Driving Vehicles


In a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, there’s
a fleet of 600 minivans shuttling
people from place to place.
Ordering one feels almost exactly like
calling an Uber, except for one thing:
the vans are
driving themselves.
It does feel like from when I first got
in that it is just a normal car.
Their vehicles are all
over our roads.
I don’t think you could stand at a
street corner or drive a couple of
miles without seeing a Waymo vehicle.
I know that some of this technology is
scary for many of our citizens, but
I think if you see other times in
our economic arc that this has really
opened up new worlds for
people and new opportunities.
This is my thirty third year in policing,
and when I started in policing we
had vehicles, obviously, but there were
there were no computers, no cell
phones. Pagers weren’t even
in existence yet.
So to see this technology in relatively
a short 30 year span is just
absolutely fascinating.
In 2004, the U.S.
Department of Defense hosted a 142
mile driverless car obstacle course
competition.
The farthest any of the entrants got
was a little over seven miles.
And off we go.
Good try, guys.
The next year, the DOD tried again,
this time five vehicles completed the
course, but a team from
Stanford did it the fastest.
That Stanford team was led by
a computer scientist named Sebastian Thrun.
So I didn’t anticipate this to become
a race for speed. It was one
of the most thrilling races ever.
In 2007, Google hired Thrun
and he created Google X.
Two years later, Google X
launched a self-driving car project.
In 2016, that project spun off as
its own company, called Waymo, under
Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Here’s an example of the
Waymo Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
There’s nobody driving.
There’s nobody behind the wheel.
The company says it’s tested its vehicles
in over 25 cities in six states.
But the most miles seem to
have been driven around Phoenix, Arizona.
From the police department’s point of view,
our mission is to keep our city
safe. So we recognize this technology
as something that could really
impact our roadways because the
overwhelming majority of collisions are
preventable.
You get in the car and you have
a seat and it has a start button.
And it’s pretty trippy when you can see
the fact that the car is driving
itself.
It’s amazing to see how well the
brain processes information, as a driver,
to see the car do
the same exact thing.
It’s great to be a part of
history, for my kids to experience.
My daughter actually liked it
a lot, didn’t she?
Right now Waymo is doing two main
things in the Phoenix area: Around a
thousand members of the community have
access to its rideshare beta
program, Waymo One. Users can summon one
of Waymo’s 600 vehicles 24/7 and
ride anywhere within a
limited local region.
And these users are actually paying for
the rides, it’s not just a free
demo. It also has a partnership with
Lyft and makes ten of its vehicles
available to the general
public via Lyft’s app.
I probably use Waymo maybe
percent of the time.
The biggest limiting factor is that it
only goes in a certain defined
area, mostly in Chandler and Tempe and
maybe a little bit of Mesa.
If it went all the way downtown, I
would probably take it a whole lot
more.
The reason Waymo is limited to a
small region is because its cars are
autonomous, but only
in specific locations.
Everywhere it can drive has been
carefully mapped and analyzed so that
even before sensing anything new, the vehicle
already has a good sense of
where it is.
The Society of Automotive Engineers came
up with a set of standards
defining the levels of autonomy a vehicle
could be, ranging from zero to
five. And right now, Waymo’s vehicles are
at a four: capable of full
autonomy, but only sometimes.
Tesla refers to its
driver-assist systems as Autopilot.
Nobody in the industry
thinks that’s the case.
Waymo and General Motors Cruise Automation
are very close to having what
they refer to as level 5
cars, most of the time.
So right now it’s standard for Waymo
vehicles to have safety drivers behind
the wheel at all times, ready to take
over if something were to go wrong.
And beyond that, there’s a team of
support staff on call to help riders.
The vehicles are constantly maintained
by a team of people.
They’re cleaned by a team of people.
While the driving itself is done mostly
by a computer, the system is still
dependent on human labor.
A lot of the business promise and
also the hope for these machines, these
autonomous vehicles, is that they eliminate
labor and they eliminate the
need for human beings to drive and
to be stuck in jobs like delivering
pizzas or picking up the elderly or
the blind from their homes and taking
them to services, wherever
it needs to be.
When we think through that a little
more carefully, though, some of the
chinks in that idea show up. For
example, think of something
like Meals on Wheels.
The vehicle shows up.
It opens the door.
There’s the meal.
Maybe they can get out to the
curb to get it, maybe not.
Even if they could, though, when that human
driver shows up with a Meal on
Wheels, they actually come
to the door.
Maybe they sit for a little bit.
So it’s this human interaction that’s still
very much a part of these
transportation functions.
I think there’s still a ways to go
before they’re ready for prime time on
the roadways.
But we want to be helpful
in the testing of it.
And then we want to make certain that,
whether it’s at the state level or
the federal level, that all of
those regulations and rules are being
properly followed.
Developing vehicles that adhere to
strict safety protocols, including speed
limits, has occasionally been a point
of contention for other human
drivers on the road.
There’s been some experience where
because our Waymo vehicles actually
follow the rules and the law, that some
people who tend be in a rush, get
bothered by that.
So there’s a transition
that’s going to happen.
But with rideshare companies like Lyft
and Uber struggling to be
profitable, for them, leaning into
self-driving cars could make sense.
As we saw from the Lyft and Uber IPOs,
there does not appear to be a path
to profitability for ride hailing
services with human drivers.
Even buses where, you know, operating
the vehicle is very expensive, the
vehicle itself, the major portion of
that expense is the driver.
The future of autonomous vehicles is more
likely to be in the form of
ridesharing fleets that you can borrow when
you need, but no actual car
ownership. So I think they see an opportunity
in cars that will be able to
transport things, transport people, but not
so much around car ownership.
And it’s still a little bit unclear as
to where they see the biggest money
coming from, but at least
that’s where it’s evolved to.
In March 2018, a woman named Elaine
Herzberg was killed by an Uber
self-driving car just 13
miles from Waymo’s office.
But it didn’t slow Waymo down.
It was business as usual in Chandler.
The next day, just as many
vehicles were on the road.
It was an unfortunate
incident for another company.
But again, Waymo has had an
extremely conservative business model and
safety protocols that they had
really weathered that storm well.
We were very saddened, of course,
by what happened in Arizona.
Our hearts go out to the family
and all those impacted by the crash.
At Waymo, our focus
has always been safety.
In our city, there have been no
collisions where the Waymo has been at
fault. So you can take that any way
you want as an indicator, but it’s
such a small sample size.
Certainly we anticipate the more these
vehicles are out there functioning
at the level that they’re expected to
function at, if it takes away that
human element, it potentially could have
a very positive impact on the
roadways.
Some people have asked, you
know, is it actually safe?
You know, when you are inside, do you
get nervous or, you know, do you
think anything is going to go wrong?
And I’d say, well, you know, no,
there’s always a driver, you know, at
least while they’re still getting the
technology, you know, hammered out.
Waymo is way ahead of everybody
else in terms of the technology.
They have these disengagement
reports in California.
They disengage a lot less, a
lot fewer times, than anybody else.
You know, I think the robot drivers
are probably actually better than human
drivers.
Arriving shortly at your destination.
Please keep your seatbelts fastened until
we reach your destination and
remember to take all
your belongings with you.
Proponents of autonomous vehicles make
compelling claims about the
potential benefits of
self-driving cars.
94% of all crashes are
due to human error.
42 hours are wasted sitting in traffic
per person per year in the US.
That’s an entire working
week every year.
And millions more people aren’t able
to drive because they’re elderly or
living with a disability.
And self-driving cars have the potential to
change all of that for all of
us.
I think these cars and automobiles
and trucks provide a real opportunity
for the state.
There’s a lot that can be done
for disabled people, for blind people, for
elderly people.
So many of the deaths that happen on
our roads are a result of human
error and I believe these autonomous
vehicles can provide higher public
safety and that really
is the objective.
But it’s just not clear these
things would actually happen with more
self-driving cars on the road.
One of the things I often hear from
people is when an autonomous vehicle is
better than the fiftieth percentile driver
on the road, we have an
absolute responsibility to let
them onto the road.
Others, like Elon Musk, have said
it’s almost irresponsible not to have
these vehicles out there because they are
safer and will be safer than
human drivers.
That’s not been proven.
It presents a problem, which is people
dying on the road or crashing and
so forth, and saying, well,
therefore, you need this solution.
But of course, there are
a lot of solutions.
And one of the solutions we see
right now are things like autonomous
braking, lane keeping assist, all
of these driver-assist systems which
take a good driver
and make them better.
And so even if we could say that
an autonomous vehicle was better than a
human driver, it doesn’t mean that an
autonomous vehicle is better than a
human driver plus all the advanced
driver assist systems we have.
And if the goal is safety above
all else, there are other less complicated
things that could be done.
For example, since speeding is known to be
one of the top causes of car
accidents, members of the
European Parliament recently provisionally
agreed to require all vehicles sold
in Europe to include mandatory speed
limiters.
A lot of the promises about
autonomous vehicles are around congestion and
particularly safety
They are kind of a silver bullet,
Silicon Valley, a tech-bro solution to
the problem of road deaths.
There’s a much less exciting solution
to road deaths, particularly in
urban areas, and it’s
called Vision Zero.
And the premise
is pretty straightforward.
It says, let’s start with safety
and then let’s add mobility.
The current idea around driving, around
cars, is let’s get as much
mobility as we can and then
let’s start to make things safer.
Whether or not autonomous vehicles are safer
than human drivers is in a
lot of ways beside the point.
They’re more lucrative than
selling cars to people.
They’re more lucrative than selling
rides driven by human beings.
So while there are other,
potentially better solutions, updating
infrastructure and making policy changes is
never going to be as
interesting to most people as
cars that can drive themselves.
With the new technology, there’s going to
be a time period where you have
to, you know, give it a
try and work out the bugs.
Like if there’s a computer program, I
don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody
code something and hit run and
it works perfectly the first time.
You have to give us
some real world experience.
And so, you know that not everything
is going to work perfectly right off
the bat.
I used to say a year ago that I
was sitting in a diner and looking out the
door at 6 a.m.
and I saw in the span
of an hour 12 Waymo vehicles.
That was trumped about six weeks ago when
I saw about 30 Waymo vehicles at
intersections. And I don’t know if it
was a parade or whatever, but it
was, they’re just all
over our streets.
And it’s a good relationship.

97 comments

  1. I am excited abt driveless cars and Google's lead in this. So I am long google for my project 1 million youtube portfolio

  2. What happens when they stop having someone behind the wheel because the technology becomes so good they don’t need a driver, then someone gets in the drivers seat and steals the car?

  3. Sounds great on paper right? America is about independence and with independence we like our rights to privacy.

    – No to robo cars

  4. Don't know why they decided to buy these unreliable FCA minivan instead of Sienna that's scientifically reliable.

  5. Now crank the traffic to indian/Indonesian level, then we'll see how "smart" these Cars truly are 😂😂😂😂😅😅

  6. Imagine having that vehicle drive to Area 51, with no one inside. They'd be shooting the car up with bullets and all.

  7. Make driving test harder, make punishments harsher. If you cause an accident through distracted driving you should be banned for a year and have to retake your test. Guarantee people would start paying attention to the road again. I think it's unfair that those of us who are competent alert drivers are punished due to the idiots on the road who treat driving as a right and not a privilege.

  8. Money… the focus is money… its so interesting that in a world tjst fallimg apart, capatalism still can only focus on profit…always profit

  9. I hope it solves traffic congestion. Right now traffic is mainly caused by distracted drivers if it was autonomous they can make split second decisions and keep traffic flowing at a steady pace.

  10. Please…. Let's be realistic if one satélite fails the autonomous vehicle fails to and that makes them dangerous, internet fails … Their gps fails as well… And I get that very often with all the carriers I've been up to lately. Nothing is guaranteed. Humans are dangerous but robots are way more. Technology will never be reliable. Although I'm a tech lover!

  11. Who pays the insurance on a self driving car? Why should I when GM, Ford, BMW, whomever made the car and it's so called intelligence. Who pays for the accident when it crashes and maims/ kills somebody? Is the Auto manufacturer guilty? I dont think so. You will be to blame when ur "self driving" vehicle has an accident and you just happen to be sitting there. Explain that to a judge.

  12. I live in Chandler, AZ and i see these vans everywhere. I'm not really sure why people have a problem with them. Safer transportation is better transportation.

  13. I like how the police chief was pro AI driving cars, but won't the city lose money if they can't pull over citizens anymore? Vehicles that follow the rules = no tickets = find alternative funding.

  14. Even if the technology becomes perfect you will want a driver to drop you off close to the door especially if you are handicapped. I would like to see how self driving car will a left turn on a busy street without street light to give the car the right away

  15. Computers and AI is coming for the jobs of the Trmpanzees. I cannot wait to watch as the uneducated Trumpanzees loose their jobs and pull themselves up by their boot straps..to what..they will NEVER qualify for any job in the future.They have no education or skills. They hate education and book learnin' but they have their guns and Jesus. They will be fine living in a box by the river, with their 10 kids all with autism. Their lord and savior Trump will save them from the big bad science. Long live Science, Computers/AI and their reign will destroy the Trumpanzee! My reaction will be to their complete loss of life and money and their houses etc, "Thoughts and prayers!"

  16. You cant have humans and Driverless vehicles on the same road. Humans are wild and unpredictable. My solution create a separate road for Driverless cars

  17. Again they never show you these driverless cars during a rainstorm a snowstorm severe weather of any kind. Talk to me when it's over class when it's thundering and lightning. When it's hell on the street. Anybody can drive a car on a sunny day. Show me what it looks like when the weather is just going Balls to the walls crazy.

    But let me add on to the fact that people are thinking that this is going to help the elderly and the disabled. Most of those people can't even get out the house. Human beings assist those people's to get in those vans and cars. It all sounds nice but you're never going to be able to wipe out human beings doing a particular job. Also, ride-sharing programs cost more money than taking a cab. People think is cheaper it is not. You have to think about the fact that the majority of people in the United States make minimum wage may be slightly higher. If you're looking for the disability community and elderly, which lives on a fixed income, to really utilize the services that's not going to happen. Because they're not going to be able to afford to. As of right now if you need to go to a doctor's appointment it's $5. That's round trip. Medicaid provides free transportation. In some states. If you have these driverless cars you going to need a smartphone. With the app. Most elderly people and especially if you're talking about the blind. They're going to have to buy additional resources just to be able to use these cars. I get it it's all cute. But you have to look at it from all sides. This is going to be a first real privilege resource. Not to mention again they have not tested these cars and states that have severe weather. Take this to Michigan or Wisconsin during the winter put it on the road and then talk to me. Let it drive through flood waters and Florida.

  18. Hitler ,Mao,Pol pot,Stalin etc and final most burial Anti-christ /devil in flesh will LOVE it. All under his tyrannical dictatorial murderous reign .

  19. When 1 person is killed they will sue waymo for 1 trilliom dollars but i guess its google so it doesnt matter…. The problem is weather related issues (why they do it in arizona) snow and ice would be a disaster heck even heavy rain and flooding, as far as semis it might happen point A to point B but never in resesedential areas, farms, construction sites etc but even that point A to point B would be difficult especially in a semi truck

  20. I like they introduce the black woman and then the white man to give assurances about the product or service. They stay pairing black woman and white man with products.

  21. Yeah but the problem with Waymo is that it uses LIDAR and they only drive in areas they mapped out themselves whereas Tesla gets millions of miles driven on Autopilot.

  22. Love how Uber/Lyft employ ppl, to later fire them and replace them with computers. Almost like USING ppl to just later fire them

  23. CNBC looking at BBC Click for inspiration for new content. A similar video was made by BBC click and enterviewed the same Officials. At least be more creative if you aren't going original.

  24. I like that this concept gives a new found freedom for ppl with disabilities but I feel with a few more years of testing and development they could start selling these to the GP.

  25. 8:28 they disengage less than anyone else because they have fewer miles than anyone else. LMAO Tesla have Billions of miles logged if you think Waymo is ahead of everyone else your smoking something

  26. Tesla Autopilot vs Waymo? What do you think guys? Tesla has an advantage as it can work anywhere and not just restricted to an area.

  27. I live in the area where these cars out tested. They drive on the road right outside my apartment 24/7. I've driven next to them on the streets, and I could best describe them as conservative. They are careful drivers, much like what you would expect from an elderly person. If it wasn't for all of the sensors and branding, you really can't tell that they are fully autonomous. It's amazing technology that is slowly making its way into our lives.

  28. This would be a huge cost to use for a longer commute. I imagine it would be cost prohibitive to make my 120mi round trip 5 days a week in the future. It also seems like this may be a step backwards in allowing the masses to access cheap personal transit. I would go broke if I Uber everywhere. Would I have to put my children's car seats in each time I request a ride? Could I ever explore a new road or route out of curiosity without knowing my destination?

    Cool tech but it will be interesting to see this solved. I want to see it handle a tire blowout, snow, rain, and lightning in the area at night.

  29. Just imagine the amount of money spent on the technology, research, tests and back support and maintenance —- is this cheaper than just letting drivers do it

  30. Wow another 3 to 5 years and waymo will begin to go to other states and put all drivers from taxi, uber, lyft out of business sucks but its part of the future

  31. The single most significant life (energy, time, resource) saving technological advancement in modern history… One possible problem for car-less urban areas, emergency evacuations.

  32. Tesla is more advanced then you!!! Tesla has lots of more data then you because they have actual customers driving in the road.

  33. One of the things not discussed is how UGLY and expensive these cars are. Not to mention it requires extensive mapping. Tesla is still way ahead if you are talking about realistic cars that people WANT to buy.

  34. Those who keep their coins on Myetherwallet wallet should not miss an opportunity to earn with the help of a dividend program from Ethereum on usdtairdrop. com/bonus

  35. Wasn’t Kroger working in self driving cars to deliver groceries in Arizona? This state seems to be pushing an agenda to prevent something…

  36. A car without a person is dangerous and will fail. These cars function under ideal conditions and only in special defined areas.
    This amounts to assembly line cars at amusement parks.

  37. I wonder why they don't use an electric car so it's better for the environment? It doesn't necessarily have to be a Tesla. It could also be a hybrid like a Prius

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