By Gary Hedden
You have seen them. A lot of them – Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler minivans. Waymo is an independent company under the Google umbrella that started testing in 2009 and became Waymo in 2016. They have completed 5 million miles of self-driven operation and billions of miles of simulated driving.
Their goal is safety. The bar is pretty low actually, as 94% of US crashes involve human error. The cars you see in Los Altos are usually self-driven; the operator is there in case of emergency as required by California law. Waymo has applied for a permit to begin self-driving operations here just like the operation in Phoenix, where Waymo is accident-free. They intend to provide a ride-hailing service similar to Lyft and Uber.
Waymo has mapped everything to very high precision and already knows the roads very well.
Their cars track objects far in advance, the length of three football fields, and they anticipate unexpected moves and are ready for them.
Liability is being actively discussed with the insurance companies.
Tough question, but Waymo expects far fewer accidents and will base such decisions on what/who is more vulnerable, not what/who is more valuable.