Waymo’s first self-driving car passengers providing feedback to shape future services

Waymo Jaguar I-Pace

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo self-driving car division plans to roll out a driverless taxi service, an industry first, by year’s end. Ahead of the launch, its early riders program is providing crucial feedback.

“The primary focus of our early rider program is really to have them give us feedback about what they want out of a service like Waymo,” Liz Markman, Waymo communications manager, told in a report published Thursday.

Perhaps the 400 riders involved in the program will be part of history; they’re the first people to regularly use a self-driving car. The early riders program began in April 2017 in Phoenix, and more than 20,000 people applied to be part of it. From that group, 400 individuals were chosen, and Waymo said it’s gathered valuable feedback from them that will shape its future self-driving car services.

Insight includes a way for riders to communicate with a human being. Waymo found that riders often have many questions while the car shuttles them to their destination. So, the company is working on a communication system that opens up dialog via a button or smartphone app.

Another important bit of feedback is the need to develop a way to wake passengers who fall asleep during the ride once they reach their destinations.

The early rider participants are truly beta testing the future.

Those involved in the program are a diverse bunch. The riders range from ages 9 to 69 and come from various backgrounds. Passengers have used a Waymo self-driving car to get to work, go to school, go shopping, and run other daily errands.

Aside from the Phoenix-area self-driving cars, Waymo added that its national fleet of cars travels 24,000 miles daily. The figures don’t include simulated driving where self-driving cars can “practice” tough scenarios that could be encountered in the real world.

Check Also

Bosch and Daimler pick Nvidia AI chip for self-driving cars

Bosch and Daimler, two of Germany's biggest automotive firms, announced Wednesday that they have selected Nvidia's Drive Pegasus artificial intelligence computer chip and supporting software to power their future self-driving systems. The computer chip can handle over 320 trillion operations per second and a terabyte of data bandwidth each and every second...

Shop, click, deliver: Kroger to test self-driving grocery delivery vehicles

Autonomous grocery deliveries could soon come to local neighborhoods as the Kroger supermarket chain announced last Thursday that it will partner with Nuro for self-driving grocery delivery test vehicles. Kroger plans to roll out the self-driving grocery delivery service in an unnamed test market this fall and has tapped the Silicon Valley robotics company...