Yes, we are now a step closer to having driverless cars in real-world scenarios. Recently, the authorities at Arizona approved a proposal by Waymo, Google’s self-driving car unit, to operate the first driverless ride-hailing service in the United States. Here, in this post, we have a video by Google that shows what the passenger experiences will be like inside these driverless cars.
As you can see in the video, passengers in the back seats of the driverless car are rather amused to see the car driving on its own. However, soon, they get busy with texting and chatting among themselves – basically the stuff you do in any ‘driver-equipped’ cab. Of course, the self-driving car operated flawlessly and transported the passengers to their desired destinations – again something that a conventional cab does. This video is a big glimpse of the future of these autonomous cars, really.
This is definitely a huge step in Waymo’s efforts to introduce these self-driving taxis in the Phoenix area. Basically, these “early riders” hailed this driverless cab using a smartphone app. Actually, the company started the trials of its pilot project in early-2017. In November, last year, it deployed a fleet of these cars to serve a group of ‘test riders’ it inducted into this program. Finally, last month, it secured a permit to operate the first commercial driverless ride-hailing service. The company has already got into an agreement with Fiat Chrysler to supply thousands of these autonomous cars to its current fleet of 600 vehicles. Eventually, the company plans to extend its services to at least 25 other cities in the States.
Waymo spent a large part of 2017 in settling a lawsuit against Uber, a ride-hailing giant that allegedly stole autonomous car secrets from Waymo. The case was finally settled with Uber agreeing to pay a financial settlement worth USD 245 million to Waymo. It also agreed to never use Waymo’s confidential information for developing its hardware and software for autonomous cars. Now, however, Uber is reportedly attempting to strike a deal with Waymo to incorporate these driverless cars into its ride-hailing system.
While further details on above are not available at the moment, one thing that’s for sure is that these driverless cars are a step closer to entering the daily lives of many users of ride-hailing apps. Of course, this technology is several decades away from making it to countries like India. However, the time has come when one simply can’t rule out the possibility of having self-driving cars in a day-to-day scenario.