It begins…the first commercial self-driving car is loose in Phoenix. In a Twitter message, Waymo CEO, John Krafcik said Wednesday morning:
Almost 10 years ago, we were founded as the Google self-driving car project to explore one simple question: how can we best use fully self-driving technology to make roads safer? We’ve been focused on building the world’s most experienced driver ever since.
In April 2017, we first invited members of the public to ride in our cars through our early rider program. We chose a diverse and passionate group to give us feedback and work directly with our product and research teams.
Their stories are inspiring: early riders used our self-driving vehicles to take courses at a local college, commute to work and to high school, accompany a vision-impaired aunt shopping, get to book club each week, connect to buses, and try new restaurants on date night. And, their feedback along the way has helped us refine our technology and design features that meet their needs. Based on their comments we worked on ways to streamline pickups, made it easy to contact support for questions, and began operating our service at all times of the day.
Today, we’re taking the next step in our journey with the introduction of our commercial self-driving service, Waymo One. We’ll first offer Waymo One to hundreds of early riders who have already been using our technology. Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public as we add vehicles and drive in more places. Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully with the comfort and convenience of our riders in mind.
At first, Waymo-trained drivers will supervise our Waymo One vehicles. We’re never done learning, and our early rider program will continue as a way for a select group to give us ongoing insights. They’ll help test early features before those new capabilities graduate to Waymo One. For example, we’ve already offered fully driverless rides to some of our early riders. Riders have shared their excitement about a self-driving future, and we expect this capability to gradually come to Waymo One.
There’s a long journey ahead, but we believe that Waymo One will make the roads safer and easier for everyone to navigate.
Photo Credit: Waymo