What’s the experience of taking a Waymo driverless online ride-hailing car?

In early October, an email posted on Reddit revealed that Waymo would offer a completely unmanned self-driving network ride to users in Phoenix, Arizona, meaning they would likely catch a robotaxi without security personnel on their next trip. Recently, Waymo invited some foreign media to participate in the pilot experience, TechCrunch reporter Ed Niedermeyer wrote to share his experience of the ride. We can take a live video to see how TheWaymo’s driverless network car is doing.

打一辆 Waymo 无人驾驶网约车是种怎样的体验?


“Congratulations! You’re about to take a self-driving taxi without a safety officer! “There’s a message popping up on the Waymo APP app. “It’s going to be a different trip, and Waymo will be responsible for the entire driving process. Please enjoy this free trip. ”

打一辆 Waymo 无人驾驶网约车是种怎样的体验?

Waymo develops driverless network car service APP Waymo

A moment later, an empty Chrysler Pacifica appeared in Ed Niedermeyer’s sight and slowly drove to his location (in a park in Chandler). Located in the suburbs of Phoenix, Wyamo has been testing self-driving cars since 2016.

Since going out of google alone, Waymo has publicly demonstrated the results of autonomous driving on several occasions. In 2017, more than a dozen journalists experienced the self-driving network ride service on closed roads at the Waymo Castle test center. Back in 2015, Google invited a blind Man ego, Steve Mahan, to ride on a firefly, Google’s self-driving prototype, on a city road in Austin.

It’s just that this ride experience is completely different from Google’s previous opening to the media. Not only is there an unprotected left turn on the trip, the scene is set on a busy city road or you need to try it out via Waymo One APP. It’s more because it represents the beginning of a truly unmanned car service, and although only city dwellers who are currently involved in Waymo’s early program can apply for it, it will eventually be open to all the public.

In 2017, Waymo CEO John Krafcik declared at the Web Summit in Lisbon that “truly driverless cars are emerging.” “Whether Krafcik’s assertiveness or Waymo’s statement seems to suggest that “the race to the age of autonomous driving is almost over.” “But obviously that’s not the case.

Almost two years after Krafcik’s speech, unmanned cars “driven by people” rather than “machines” are still running on the streets of Phoenix – the vast majority of Waymo’s self-driving fleets offering online pilot services in Arizona are equipped with safety personnel, and only a few are unmanned. But only for testing.

While Waymo’s results are far ahead of other companies, the true driverless future that it once “promised” still seems out of reach. Until Waymo announced that it would take an important step, it began testing the unmanned car service that removed the safety officer.

Waymo did not say what size of service it would provide, saying only that it would gradually increase capacity. According to ID: Geekpark, there were thousands of passengers involved in Waymo’s early program, and all of them would be given the chance to take a truly driverless taxi. But you can’t make an active call with Waymo One APP, assuming you have a matchable vehicle near by the time you’re using the car, and you’ll be given priority.

Of course, there are restrictions on areas. Waymo limits these completely unmanned self-driving fleets to a controlled environment with a geofence. Passengers participating in the early program are screened according to the zip code of their area of residence and must also sign an NDA confidentiality agreement. All trips are free, at least at first.

According to techCrunch reporter’s description: really into this unmanned car without safety supervision, seat buckled seat belt, still a little nervous. Given the current level of self-driving technology, it’s hard to really relax. So it would be wrong to think that the era of self-driving has arrived just to see Waymo take such a step.

Waymo’s attempt scored a new phase. And it’s going to be a long, harder journey before we reach a true driverless travel future.

打一辆 Waymo 无人驾驶网约车是种怎样的体验?  Waymo 试点完全无人驾驶的网约车服务 | TechCrunch

A futuristic experience

A real driverless car sounds like a futuristic sci-fi feel. But when you think about it, you realize that you’re about to get into a car that no one controls, and it’s a physical or psychological challenge.

After all the passengers sat down and buckled their seatbelts, the unmanned car began to call Waymo’s Passenger Support team automatically, explaining the possible problems and concerns that the user might have. This is the only place in this “unmanned car tour” experience that has something to do with humans.

Starting in 2016, it is believed that many media peers have been testing many of the company’s self-driving test vehicles on public roads, without exception, there will be safety officers sitting in town. So when you see an empty driver’s seat, which is 72 km/h, the steering wheel is turning in all directions from time to time, taking you through the traffic on the outskirts of the city, it’s an incredible feeling! It’s like a picture that looks normal at first glance, but a closer look reveals that there’s a face-length clock inside, or a cat in boots with a crutch in his hand.

And apart from that really magical feeling, this 10-minute trip to the real no-man’s car (from the park to the cafe) is almost as good as the self-driving test cars that everyone tried before, according to Ed.” But it does have times when you feel like you’re feeling bad about it: one time, for example, when the yellow light comes on, he makes a left turn, or you’re able to keep up with the traffic around you with reasonable acceleration. The unmanned car, which has no safety, appears to have mastered more human-style driving, slowly driving toward sparking signs and telling the surrounding pedestrians clearly of its intentions.

Of course, it also has a lot of strange behavior. For example, too carefulto keep the distance from the car in front, route planning is too aggressive and so on.

What is the degree of “security” called “security”?

Why does Waymo dare to put the average consumer in a completely driverless car? While Waymo has a lot of confidence in the self-driving system it’s developing, the machine that could replace humans in the future,” which seems to have never been detailed.

Saswat Panigrahi, Waymo’s product director, declined to say how many driverless test miles the company has accumulated in Chandler, nor did he talk about any criteria for measuring passenger safety. Citing only the 10 million miles the company has accumulated in real road tests and 10 billion miles of virtual test mileage, he said, “Waymo’s confidence comes from a global view of the application of autonomous driving technology.” ”

“Autopilot is so hard, so you can’t measure it by a single metric. Saswat Panigrahi said.

This argument sounds a little sensual, or even a little frustrating. Given that the biggest question facing the entire self-driving industry today is ,”What is the degree of safety?” “Put aside enough strong evidence, it’s hard to tell if the real driverless network car that started the pilot means that Waymo is mature in a broad sense, or is Waymo confident simply because it has chosen a relatively unchallenged test route?”

The fully driverless taxis currently in use by Waymo are not charged and can only be operated in areas with geographical fences in Chandler, Mesa and Tempe. This is much smaller than Waymo’s current pilot project on self-driving networkcars in suburban Phoenix, and seems to suggest that Waymo’s willingness to take off the safety officer’s self-confidence is actually conditional. Interestingly, however, even The main testing program that Waymo is conducting (robotaxi with security personnel) does not allow for the connection of passengers between the airport and the destination. The airport is just one of the most popular consumers in the online car application scenario.

打一辆 Waymo 无人驾驶网约车是种怎样的体验?  试乘体验结束后,系统会通过 emoji 的形式让用户提供打分 | TechCrunch

The complexity of driverless

Asked what Waymo’s plans for growth were with the driverless network pilot service, Panigrahi did not respond positively. It simply indicates that the number of deliveries and the intensity of the operation will continue to increase. According to official disclosures, Waymo currently has 600 self-driving prototypes across the United States, the vast majority in Phoenix, Arizona.

Panigrahi, however, says the main reason for limiting the large-scale rollout of pilot services is that it is not easy to apply the results of theoretical research to actual early passenger programs. “There are no objects to refer to, everything needs to start from scratch. Panigrahi said.

The passenger-vehicle interaction was one of the biggest challenges of the study after the safety officer was removed from the self-driving road test. For example, the development of technologies and instructions can be quite complicated when a passenger becomes unwell in use, allowing an unmanned vehicle to detect an ambulance and stop at the side, or even allowing ambulance crews to take over the vehicle. It requires intensive and extensive testing and good relationships with local institutions.

打一辆 Waymo 无人驾驶网约车是种怎样的体验?在使用 Waymo 自动驾驶网约车服务时,乘客能够清晰地看到无人车与周围环境的交互过程 | Waymo

In addition, user experience (UX) design is equally critical in driverless network ingress service. In this regard, Waymo has invested a lot of time, effort, and resources. Because there are many unexpected challenges that arise when people are deprived of their right to drive.

For example, the multiple interactions we have with Uber/Lyft drivers every time we take a ride on the Internet, communication with the location of the get-off, or the need to change travel plans for emergencies, things that are usually commonplace when the driver is on a computer can become extremely complicated. The Waymo UX design team acknowledges that they are still continuing to conduct research on the user experience of autonomous driving.

Although more advanced computing platforms and sensors have performed much better than humans in certain driving abilities, such as lane keeping or avoiding obstacles (especially for long periods of time), they still lack human flexibility and adaptability. In order to avoid the mistakes that human beings may make, on the one hand, large-scale road testing is required to gain a wider experience, and at the same time, in-depth study of human behavior psychology and other interdisciplinary disciplines.

It’s not just a technical issue

Waymo’s start of the Real Unmanned Car Pilot Service means that self-driving research and development has entered a whole new phase, and that “technology” will no longer dominate. Research on human behavior, establishing good relationships with local government agencies, and working together to develop instructions that can be applied are time-consuming and time-consuming. These are precisely things That Waymo can’t solve by technology alone, and require a lot of in-depth research on the human nature.

Some of the challenges are straightforward. For example, it may soon be clear that it’s not convenient to keep passengers as close as possible to the entrance to a Wal-Mart store, where traffic is so high that it can be unpleasant. So even when designing places where passengers get on and off, it’s impossible to rely solely on mathematical or physical logic (for example, a place close to the entrance is always the best choice), which means that Google’s driverless taxis still face the challenges that the real world has given them.

This can be frustrating, despite the slow commercialization of autonomous driving and the slow pace of mass development. But Waymo is encouraging to invest a lot of energy and resources in exploring and exploring solutions while facing these challenges and challenges.

If the first phase of the development of self-driving technology is primarily about teaching machines to drive, Waymo is now in its second phase, and it is already considering incorporating machines into real life, and there are more complex and unpredictable challenges: it’s not easy to deal with “people.” What’s more, machine learning is about how people interact with people, people, and the environment.

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