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Waymo starts offering driverless taxi rides in Phoenix
Old 10-08-2020, 01:56 PM   #1
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Waymo starts offering driverless taxi rides in Phoenix

Waymo, the division of Google that develops self-driving cars, has been testing its self-driving cars for 3 or 4 years now around the part of Phoenix where I live. Today, Waymo announces that it will soon offer a service for the public to hail its driverless taxis via a smartphone app.

The area of operation is for now limited to 50 square miles. Not all of the cars in its test fleet of 300-400 cars in Phoenix will be put in this service.

Quote:
The fully driverless rides previously were available only to a select group, the Early Riders, who signed nondisclosure agreements. By contrast, the Waymo One commercial service allowed customers to bring friends or family along who had not signed nondisclosure agreements, but backup drivers were present in those vehicles.

That is changing.

Starting Thursday, Waymo One users will "be able to experience the fully autonomous Waymo driver with no human test driver in the driver seat," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said Wednesday. "Itís a really, really big deal, we think, for us and for the the world."

Once the existing Waymo One customers get the opportunity to ride in an autonomous vehicle, which could take weeks, Waymo offers its app to anyone from either Google Play or the Apple App Store.

They can then use the app to hail and pay for a ride in the company's limited operating area, and take a spin in a car with no human attendant.
For more, see: https://www.azcentral.com/story/mone...ic/5913106002/
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Old 10-08-2020, 04:37 PM   #2
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I think I saw those when I visited Phoenix in Jan Ď19. They were everywhere around Tempe where I visited. They were using Volvos and had human observers in the cars but a pedestrian was killed soon after I left and they suspended the program. I remember thinking how the roads there were wide, flat, and straight with light traffic, good weather and no potholes compared to the East coast where I live. Interesting they have advanced to this point now.
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Old 10-08-2020, 06:03 PM   #3
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I will ride in one of those, when I go get a covid vaccine!
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Old 10-08-2020, 07:00 PM   #4
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I will ride in one of those, when I go get a covid vaccine!
Belt & Suspenders approach?

If the autonomous car doesn't kill ya the vaccine will?



Do you want to take some chainsaws to juggle on the way over too?
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Old 10-08-2020, 07:24 PM   #5
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Belt & Suspenders approach?

If the autonomous car doesn't kill ya the vaccine will?



Do you want to take some chainsaws to juggle on the way over too?
Ohhh what could possibly go wrong?

Actually I can see it working in a limited sized area very well.
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Old 10-08-2020, 07:27 PM   #6
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Ohhh what could possibly go wrong?

Actually I can see it working in a limited sized area very well.
Yes. They'll monitor things like construction and avoid them. Probably have an agreement with the authorities on that. They'll shut it down in really bad weather.

Should be interesting. First steps.
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Old 10-08-2020, 07:31 PM   #7
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I'm still of the opinion (expressed on long ago closed threads) that we are 20 to 30 years plus away from garage to garage self driving in all conditions.

However, I have to say in certain cases like this test area, I'd probably rather drive in a Waymo than with some friends. Had a friend drive us a few days ago and his eyesight is getting really bad. Crossing the center line and stuff with constant lane assist warnings. It was not a good feeling!
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:12 PM   #8
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I think I saw those when I visited Phoenix in Jan ‘19. They were everywhere around Tempe where I visited. They were using Volvos and had human observers in the cars but a pedestrian was killed soon after I left and they suspended the program. I remember thinking how the roads there were wide, flat, and straight with light traffic, good weather and no potholes compared to the East coast where I live. Interesting they have advanced to this point now.
The fatality you mentioned was by an Uber autonomous test car in Tempe, Arizona, a few miles from Arizona State University. It happened at night. The test driver was not paying attention, and the car hit and killed a homeless woman who was walking her bike across the road.

Uber immediately suspended its test program after that fatal March 2018 accident. It resumed the drive test in SF recently in March 2020.

Uber test cars are Volvo. Waymo has used a few different cars, but the ones in Phoenix are built on the Chrysler Pacifica. If you see some test cars in Phoenix in 2019, those are Waymo's not Uber's.

Waymo test cars have not been involved in any accident with injury. Waymo is the best of all developers, and it has been doing more advanced development and testing before any other competitors.
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:20 PM   #9
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Yes. They'll monitor things like construction and avoid them. Probably have an agreement with the authorities on that. They'll shut it down in really bad weather.

Should be interesting. First steps.
+1

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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
I'm still of the opinion (expressed on long ago closed threads) that we are 20 to 30 years plus away from garage to garage self driving in all conditions.

However, I have to say in certain cases like this test area, I'd probably rather drive in a Waymo than with some friends. Had a friend drive us a few days ago and his eyesight is getting really bad. Crossing the center line and stuff with constant lane assist warnings. It was not a good feeling!
+1

I have been monitoring the development of self-driving cars. Waymo is extremely cautious, taking a 180-deg path from that taken by Tesla.

With a limited deployment with a taxi service that is geofenced in a 50-square mile area, they are reducing risks. For example, if it rains hard and the visibility is poor, the taxis can simply be taken off service.
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:28 PM   #10
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The photo below is that of the Uber Volvo involved in the fatal accident in 2018.







The following is one of the Waymo test cars that have been running around my part of town since 2017.



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Old 10-09-2020, 06:13 AM   #11
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I'm sure I'm behind the times, but saw sometime new to me last evening at Costco. Was walking in from where I parked my car & noticed a guy standing near the entrance. As I got closer, noticed Tesla pulling up such that man was on passenger side. But he oddly - to me - walked around to driver side. Huh? I looked and the car was empty till her got in.

Cool.
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:35 AM   #12
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How is Tesla coming with their autonomous plan? Elon claimed a million capable autonomous taxis by the end of this year:

https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a3...l-coming-2020/

Quote:
One year ago, in April 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised a fleet of self-driving taxis for ride sharing would be deployed in 2020, at the same event where he said self-driving would be launched by the end of 2019.

In April 2020, Musk has tweeted that robotaxi "functionality [is] still looking good for this year."
https://electrek.co/2020/04/12/tesla...tory-approval/

I know he threw in the caveat "pending regulatory approval", but have they given any demos to show that's the hangup?

-ERD50
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Old 10-09-2020, 11:49 AM   #13
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I looked and the car was empty till her got in.
My buddy demonstrated that feature for me one evening after dinner. The car backed-out of a parking spot and pulled up to where he was standing. Cool, indeed!
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Old 10-09-2020, 01:18 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by gerntz View Post
I'm sure I'm behind the times, but saw sometime new to me last evening at Costco. Was walking in from where I parked my car & noticed a guy standing near the entrance. As I got closer, noticed Tesla pulling up such that man was on passenger side. But he oddly - to me - walked around to driver side. Huh? I looked and the car was empty till her got in.

Cool.
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My buddy demonstrated that feature for me one evening after dinner. The car backed-out of a parking spot and pulled up to where he was standing. Cool, indeed!

That mode on Tesla cars is called "Smart Summon". It is to be used only on parking lots and driveways, and not on public roads. The user must maintain constant visual contact with the car, and be within 200 ft. He must watch out for obstacles that the car may not see. He has to keep his fingertip on a button on his smartphone as a "dead man switch", and if he lets go, the car will stop. If anything goes wrong, Tesla is not responsible.

So you can see that "Smart Summon" is a long way from the full autonomous operation of a taxi that can come pick up riders at any random point, like a Uber human driver is capable of doing.

Tesla released this "Smart Summon" mode 1 year ago, and has been constantly tweaking it. As can be expected, many Tesla owners play with this mode, and many made videos to put on Youtube.

Here's a recent one video that I just grabbed off Youtube. Despite testing this mode in an empty parking lot, the owner said it stressed him out.

I would expect that Waymo taxis are a lot better than this.

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Old 10-09-2020, 01:22 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
How is Tesla coming with their autonomous plan? Elon claimed a million capable autonomous taxis by the end of this year:

https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a3...l-coming-2020/


https://electrek.co/2020/04/12/tesla...tory-approval/

I know he threw in the caveat "pending regulatory approval", but have they given any demos to show that's the hangup?

-ERD50

One can just watch the video of the "Smart Summon" mode performed in an empty parking lot that I posted above to see where the "hang up" is for Tesla autopilots.
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Old 10-09-2020, 03:12 PM   #16
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If you do not live near the 50-sq.mi. area that Waymo is going to offer this driverless taxi service to the public, you can still watch the following video to see what it is like to ride in one.

Notice that the reporter took this ride in Dec 2019. It looked pretty good, but Waymo still worked on it for another year before offering a limited trial to the public.

At the end of the video, it was explained that even though the car did not have a driver onboard, there were still Waymo employees at the test center watching the live feed of the cameras on the car to see what was going on. It was explained that the human monitors were there in case the computer ran into an ambiguous condition, could not figure out how to handle it, and had to ask a human for help on how to proceed.

See the explanation at 4:37. Autonomous driving is not as simple as keeping the car on the road, and braking at stoplights!

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Old 10-09-2020, 07:01 PM   #17
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Then there is this comment on Star Trek and self driving vehicles.

FF to the last minute if you wish.

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Old 10-10-2020, 08:01 PM   #18
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Uber test cars are Volvo. Waymo has used a few different cars, but the ones in Phoenix are built on the Chrysler Pacifica. If you see some test cars in Phoenix in 2019, those are Waymo's not Uber's.

Waymo test cars have not been involved in any accident with injury. Waymo is the best of all developers, and it has been doing more advanced development and testing before any other competitors.


Thanks for clarifying. I shouldíve remembered it was Uber since I used Lyft for the first time on that trip. I seem to recall that Uber disabled some collision warning system that was built into the car by Volvo.
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