Google is considered not only to be the most successful company of all time but also the smartest. There are more computer scientists in their headquarters and surrounding buildings than anywhere on earth. Google is also ambitious and not afraid of taking on huge challenges and risks. In the past few years, one of those risks is the development of self-driving cars.
The tech firm has devoted billions of dollars and some of the smartest people on the planet towards developing self-driving technology. The result of all that hard work is an autonomous vehicle known as Waymo. Alphabet, the parent company of Google just announced Waymo just marked its 10 millionth mile in real-world driving conditions. That’s equivalent to 400 trips around the world.
According to the CEO of Waymo, John Krafcik, the company is close to transitioning into a full-fledged ride-hailing service that will spread around the country. At the end of 2018, Waymo autonomous minivans will debut throughout Phoenix. The vans will become the first robot-taxi service anywhere. Users will be able to hail a Waymo much like hitchhikers used to hail down cars for rides. In this case, however, riders will use their smartphone, and like a faithful servant, within minutes, the closest Waymo will appear. According to DirectAutoInsurance.org, internet is the easiest way to get direct insurance quotes, the vans are fully insured, so in the very rare instance where an accident happens, passengers will be covered.
Although the service won’t be available in all parts of Phoenix for several more months, the service is already available in one select region of the city. There are around 400 Waymo vans already in use in a zone around metropolitan Phoenix. This test zone serves as an experiment to not only test the self-driving vans but gets feedback from riders. The goal is to provide a relaxing and comfortable ride each and every trip.
One of the things Google engineers have been working on is driving during hazardous conditions, like heavy rain, snow, and ice. For experienced human drivers, these conditions are difficult to drive in, but even more so for self-driving vehicles. To solve these driving conditions, engineers have developed advanced algorithms that can sense weather and make on the go driving adjustments.
Waymo is Not for Everyone
If you are a driving control freak, then “handing over the keys” to a robotic car might not sound too attractive. There are also a lot of drivers who think Waymo rides are too boring. The company has gotten a lot of complaints out of the Phoenix testing area the vans stop for too long at stop signs or drive way too slow. If you are a speed racer, Waymo vans might not be for you.
Waymo plans on ordering over 60,000 more Chrysler Hybrid minivans in the coming months as the service rolls out in Phoenix and is tested more in other markets. Someday in the next few years, Waymo might take a big chunk out of the taxi business and dominate transportation the way they dominate search.