back to article Waymo robo-taxis to accept fares in Arizona in 2018

Alphabet's self-driving car outfit Waymo has announced it will start an autonomous taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, later this year. Waymo has been doing extensive testing in the city by loaning out cars to beta testers and letting them travel without anyone behind the wheel. Speaking at the Google I/O developer …

  1. ratfox Silver badge
    Go

    I for one am looking towards having a self-driving car. It probably can't happen until I'm retired, due to various things like snow and European roads being probably more difficult to handle than those of Phoenix, but it's still something to look forward to.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      I'm looking forward to it too, but IMHO it is way too soon to put it into public operation. One high profile accident operating at a taxi could set the whole industry back years as regulations get piled on (some will be needed, but some will be written by technologically clueless politicians to serve their own purposes)

      I certainly wouldn't ever consider riding in one of these yet!

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        One high profile accident operating at a taxi could set the whole industry back years

        Yes, but we now have cases going through which demonstrate that the cars weren't at fault.

        It's going to be the insurance industry as much as the regulators who decide how this goes.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Yes there are some where the car was not at fault. Then there's the one where the Uber car was clearly at fault - and had the safety driver been paying attention we would never have heard of it since she would have stopped the car and nothing would have happened. Now we're going to get (if I'm understanding this correctly) autonomous cars without a safety driver - imagine being a passenger in a car you know is crashing for no reason and can't do anything about it!

          I agree the insurance industry will play a big part, but only when self driving cars are ready for prime time. They are not, Waymo/Google is just pushing for the publicity of being "first", and will regret it when the inevitable accident occurs and causes public opinion to sour on using public roads for beta testing products not ready for prime time, where program bugs mean someone can get killed.

          Those who think autonomous cars only need to be better than human driven cars are not thinking straight. They will need to be about 10x better - because most people believe they are above average drivers, and most accidents occur due to distracted, tired, drunk etc. humans - the cars need to be better drivers than the best fully attentive human drivers before they will begin to be accepted by the general public.

          1. Alan Thompson

            @DougS

            To clarify your comment, while uber, the company, was clearly at fault for disabling the warning functionality, the car itself "saw" the j-walking pedestrian and recorded attempts to warn the safety driver and to stop the vehicle. Uber made a decision to disable the safety feature when it kept interfering with the driving of and annoying the passengers.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Finally...

    We can at least stop hearing about how badly uber treats its drivers since there won't be any...

  3. Halcin

    Any bets as to how long before it's made a crime for a pedestrian to step in front of an auto-car?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It already is, Jay walking.

      1. Steve Button

        Surely an offence, not a crime? (or would that be a misdemeanour ?)

      2. iron Silver badge

        @Jay Walking AC

        In your state / country maybe but not in mine.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are the odds it's going to snow this winter?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hello ... I'm Johnny Cab

    1. wayne 8 Bronze badge

      More memorable than the line from "Taxi Driver".

      That was my first thought, "will it do Johnny Cab?"

      "Helluvaday!"

    2. wayne 8 Bronze badge

      More memorable than the line from "Taxi Driver".

      That was my first thought, "will it do Johnny Cab?"

      "Helluva day!"

  6. teknopaul Silver badge

    Its great that car jacking just became a non-violent crime.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Not really as the cars soon won't have manual controls.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Why Arizona?

    Arizona also has no requirement for a safety driver behind the wheel.

    This is the real reason for choosing AZ for the tests. The companies have a vested interest in documenting any accidents and getting precedent judgements in their favour and the cases going through are looking good so far. Google presumably found out early on the limitations of having backup drivers as these are just as likely to lose concentration as anyone else and hence decided to without them as soon as possible.

    Next move is to sweet talk the insurance industry to get favourable premiums for autonomous vehicles. And again data, including footage and telemetry of accidents, is the way to go. This can be compared with the telemetry that all cars are now collecting.

    1. Rustbucket

      Re: Why Arizona?

      According to a Wired article, this test will use a safety driver, be strictly geofenced with set pickup and put down points (no parking hassles) and the rides for the test are free.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many fatalities...

    ...will it take before service is suspended?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Send the car to me.

    I'll drive it to my destination and let it go.

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