Have you heard of Waymo? Over the past year, this autonomous car development company has offered self-driving taxi rides for free. However, there has always been someone at the driver position to take control of the car if something goes wrong.
Waymo has launched test-driving driverless cars on Phoenix roads a few weeks ago. Their autonomous vehicles now run without a safety driver behind the wheel. That took the driving experience to the next level.
If you think this is just another fly-by-night car company, you think wrong. They have been around since 2009, acting as a spin-off of a large Google’s self-driving car project. Waymo is driving about 2.5 million simulated miles weekly, mostly on public roads and complex city streets. They’re also running roughly 20,000 scenario tests involving driverless cars across the US.
The best is yet to come. They will continue expanding their free taxi service to a fleet in the near future! Self-driving vehicles are gonna change the driving landscape forever. This raises the questions: Will these vehicles bring danger or convenience on the roads? Are they ready for the prime time? Are we ready for them?
Since driverless cars are relatively new and few, we can’t still correctly judge their security. Though, there were some collisions involving driverless vehicles.
In November this year, a self-driving shuttle bus got into a traffic accident on the public streets in Las Vegas, just after two hours on its first day on the job. The other driver has caused that fender bender though. In fact, a delivery truck bumped into the autonomous bus, which has immediately stopped after sensing the danger of a crash. Luckily, no injuries were reported.
A Google self-driving car crashed into a bus while being tested in California last year. Google has accepted partial responsibility for that collision and modified its software later. Even though the bus and self-driving car collided at roughly 15 mph, the damage to the Google’s Lexus SUV was significant. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
The good news is that self-driving vehicles can be programmed in such a way to follow any particular safety rule. Yet, they can’t be compared with attentive human drivers. As you already know, the sensors and computers may need a lot of time to observe, evaluate, and react properly in complex situations.
Those cars come with unique safety features, including advanced computer, steering, and braking systems, as well as the software that can immediately halt the car in emergency situations.
As the more self-driving vehicles hit the roads and technology improves, experts hope that the number of car accidents will reduce. Driverless cars are meant to lessen some main causes of car accidents, such as reckless driving, drunk driving, and distracted driving.
Aside from reducing car accidents, automated vehicles shall cut down on fuel costs as well. It’s expected that they will reduce consumption of fuel by 90% when it comes to the passenger cars. Scientists believe that it could play a key role in addressing man-made global warming and climate change. Nobody can tell it for certain at this point. Only time will tell.