By on November 7, 2017


After spending most of last week showing off its tech to the media, Waymo is launching its driverless pilot program in Arizona. While the rides won’t technically begin for a few months, you can already get a taste of the action via video footage of company’s trio of testbed Chrysler Pacificas.

It’s impressive to see the Pacificas not run down any pedestrians, especially since none of them seemed to notice being approached by a van without a driver.

During a keynote speech at a tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Waymo CEO John Krafcik showed video of the firm’s test vehicles operating on public roads without any human supervision. “This wasn’t just a one-time ride or a demo,” Krafcik told the crowd. “What you’re seeing now marks the start of a new phase for Waymo and the history of this technology.”


This is the first time the company has shown, or even discussed, its vehicles being tested without a person behind the wheel. Waymo says it has been staging these kinds of runs since mid-October. Meanwhile, mainstream manufacturers continue leaving a human plan B in the driver’s seat while testing on public roads.

While far less impressive to watch, it makes us feel a little more confident knowing there’s someone behind the wheel. But maybe we’re being big babies about this whole autonomous car thing.

According to Automotive News, Waymo successfully demoed its driverless Pacificas during an October press event, operating seven-minute rides at its private testing center in Atwater, California. The company also showcased its user interface technology, which includes a simple-to-understand row of buttons that allows passengers to start their ride, pull the car over, and call for help. The rear of the vehicle houses two screens that monitor the car’s route, current position, and 360-degree vision.

Waymo has also been providing rides to a handful of carefully selected residents in Chandler, Arizona. The plan is to expand the operating range of the driverless vehicles to an area of roughly 600 square miles and remove the safety drivers, leaving occupants to pick their noses and do whatever else shame would have once prevented.

“Since the beginning of this year, our early riders have been using our fleet — with a test driver at the wheel — to go to work, school, soccer practice and more,” he said “Soon, they’ll be able to make these trips in a fully self-driving car, with Waymo as their chauffeur.”

[Image: Waymo]

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15 Comments on “Video: Check Out Waymo’s Self-Driving Cars in Action...”

  • avatar

    Like being driven by a little old lady going to Sunday mass.

    • 0 avatar

      They will get faster as computing power continues to increase. This already is a huge improvement over what could be done five years ago. A bigger challenge will be rural gravel roads that lack the neatly drawn markings of the city streets in the video.

      One issue I don’t know how they will address is security. My wife points out that a vandal could stop an autonomous vehicle simply by throwing something into the street in front of it. I’m more worried about criminals. If an armed carjacker is so foolish as to stand in front of a manually driven vehicle, the driver can floor the accelerator to take him out and escape. An autonomous vehicle wouldn’t know enough to do that.

  • avatar

    What a joke. They drive on streets frequented by golf-cart (only in Phoenix?), at pedestrian speeds (ok, let’s say cyclist that did not want to sweat in the “dry heat” of Arizona). These passenger better get reimbursed for the wasted time, though – I bet – mobility as a service won’t come cheap to actual customers. All this aside, driving in passenger seat makes me motion sick so I’d rather stay in control of the steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar

      I live in Waymo’s home town of Chandler AZ, hardly “streets frequented by golf-cart”, as this is a town of 250k people, and they do a ton of their testing right here in Chandler – you see a bunch of Waymo cars on the road every day here.

      That said – I’m also VERY skeptical that this technology can possibly be ready for primetime. Just a few months ago they did testing with Chandler PD down an access road to a county equipment yard, where Chandler PD vehicles would approach with their red lights blazing from front and rear. They were apparently programming the cars on how to react to such circumstances. VERY recently. How can this critical technology be perfected in short order, by testing on an otherwise unoccupied street? I think we’ll see a major accident of some kind VERY soon, and this program will get throttled back as they promise to “work out the kinks”. I just hope one of these robots doesn’t T-bone me at high speed without braking.

    • 0 avatar

      Right…there’s no way these cars could possibly improve any further, such that the costs come down and the driving quality further improves to work in less optimal weather and road conditions.

      Seriously, anybody who thinks autonomous driving isn’t going to be everywhere in a decade is out of their mind.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    These are cars that are supposed to be like 20 years away according to some on another thread…..

    • 0 avatar

      Those are the ones that can drive the same 3+ trillion miles/year Americans drive today with the same accident rate.

    • 0 avatar

      CKNSLS Sierra SLT: These are cars that are supposed to be like 20 years away according to some on another thread…..

      Probably 10 years away. Technology is moving along pretty fast. They have it working a relatively simple environment. Bring these things to Boston and watch them fail. I’d like to see what one of these cars would do after a patriots game when a “statey” directs it to go southbound in the northbound lanes on Rt. 1 or northbound in the southbound lanes. All the signs and left turn lanes are backwards and would freak it out.

      Then there is Bell Circle in Revere MA. It’s a horrible mutant traffic rotary/intersection. Non-existant markings the last time I went through it. Extremely high accident rate. I live in the northern suburbs and we have one lane bridges and in the winter, narrow roads that narrow further due to snow making it difficult or impossible to stay totally right of the centerline. I could go on and on. There are so many issues to be solved. They are being worked on.

      It’s sort of like climbing Everest. They’re hiking in the foothills thinking it’s going to be a piece of cake. It’s those last parts that are going to be the real challenge. Oh, it’ll get done. It’s just not going to be as easy as they think.

  • avatar

    Sad to see how John Krafcik how fallen from head of Hyundai US through a succession of jobs to this one.
    Maybe he left Hyundai at the right time though.
    He always came across as arrogant, but I suppose he helped Derek into his job with Hyundai.

  • avatar
    The ultimate family-friendly hybrid vehicle is finally here.

    I could see the practical joke potential in self-driving cars: A wag could put a couple of bags of sand (assuming weight on a seat is necessary) or a blow-up doll in his buddy’s car, and program it to go back to his house, or to a house of ill repute, or his ex-girlfriend’s house. Friend finds his car missing, searches all day for it, deals with the end of the story, then plans his revenge.

  • avatar

    That sure was not much of a test with such light traffic. I want to see this thing operate in city centre like congestion and then I will be impressed. Also a parallel park should be in there. That no way simulates real life driving in my town.

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