Once upon a time, to go to the right place by cab, you had to catch it on the street or call the control service. But today, even in small settlements, you can call a car, just deliver it from your pocket to your smartphone. The cab industry is constantly developing and in the future “smart” cars will drive up to us with no drivers inside. You will just need to get into the salon and wait for the computer to take you to the right place. It seems to be fantastic, but the residents of the American state of Arizona already have the opportunity to take a cab ride. The autonomous cars driving on the roads of the Phoenix city work on the basis of technologies developed by Waymo. Recently, a long video has appeared in the Internet, which shows how Waymo cab rides look like in reality. Apparently, during the quarantine the developers did not sit idly by.
Offline cab Waymo
Testing of autonomous cab Waymo in the city of Phoenix has long been underway. But about March 2020 the service was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to Reuters, the work was resumed only in October. To order a stand-alone cab can anyone who downloads and installs a branded application Waymo for mobile devices. Previously, inside the salon of the autonomous cab often was a person who followed the actions of the car manager computer. But now clients of Waymo sit in empty salons, where there is a steering wheel, but there is no driver. Judging by the video published in the Internet, using a self-contained cab is a very interesting experience.
Unmanned Car Capabilities
The video was published in a section of the Reddit website. Previously, Waymo cab clients signed a non-disclosure document. Apparently, now the company has no secrets and users can shoot what is happening on video and share feedback. The published video lasts 1.5 hours, because it includes 4 trips. Each of them lasts about 20 minutes – the author clearly wanted the car to face as many difficult situations on the road as possible. And he carried out his plans perfectly.
Complex tests for a car start from the very beginning. For 51 seconds, you can see the video doing a three-point turn. Since the road is narrow, the car has to wrap in the yard, turn on the rear gear and only then turn in the right direction. At 00:06:50 the car passes by a stopped truck, which earlier may well have confused the autonomous transport. At 42 minutes the car smoothly gets out of the dead-end, and starting from 01:01.02 it is parked near the shopping center, where there are a lot of other cars and pedestrians.
The car interior deserves special attention. There is a driver’s seat, but you can’t sit on it. It is rather strange to watch the steering wheel spinning by itself. But Waymo service works in a test mode, so all this can be forgiven. Most likely, there will be no driver’s seat or steering wheel at all in the future. Passengers will be allowed to sit there, but so far this is just a guess. But everything is great in the back seat too – there is a large display, which shows the route planned by the computer. There are also shown cars passing nearby.
To drive on the roads and not to get into traffic accidents, Waymo cars actively use data from the Google Street View service. On the car body there are video cameras and sensors, which help the computer to record each surrounding object and make decisions based on their trajectory. Initially, Waymo technologies did not allow cars to move in the rain and even recognize signals from traffic lights. But now there are no problems with this, so the development team is clearly worth praise.
Cab of the future
All four trips shown in the video went perfectly. This is impressive, because Waymo cars used to get into trouble many times. In February 2016, an autonomous cab made a mistake and crashed into a bus passing by. The reason for the accident was that the computer thought that the bus would decide to let him ride freely. On that day no one was injured, but a year earlier a car crashed into an unmanned vehicle under the control of another person. He was slightly injured, but the Waymo technology was not to blame.
When the Waymo cab service will be launched in other American states. But the fact that the cars are already so good at driving on their own, gives great hope. In 2020, Tesla also promised to launch its own cab service, but there is still no news about it. It would be interesting to compare which cars are better able to cope with driving on urban roads.