Some new details leaked about Waymo’s plans for starting the operation of a commercial robotaxi service. Waymo has been talking about it this year and ordered Jaguars and Fiats (82,000 in total). Now Reddit-User throwupawaywaymo posted some new information that he got at a Waymo-recruiting event in a detailed thread:
When they do their 2018 public release in Arizona (which will be about 100 square miles centered around the Phoenix area), the cars will be driverless without operators. They made it pretty clear that the only humans in the car will be the riders who hail the Waymo.
As of this point, the focus is mostly now on expanding to other cities with Phoenix pretty much 100% ready at this point. They’re doing a lot with snow right now since one of their main goals is to have all-weather ready cars for next year. Rain is already pretty much solved.
After Phoenix, the next public release will be Mountain View and then San Francisco. After that is still sort of up in the air, but the primary targets will be large densely populated urban areas. Mountain View release is planned for the first half of 2019 and San Francisco is planned for the second half. Each of the areas will be around 100 square miles, similar to Phoenix.
The trucking team wouldn’t give me any hard dates on a public release, but they say it’s because the business model will likely be different than ride sharing. I assume this means they’re going to partner with and sell directly to trucking businesses rather than individuals. From what I got, it seems like ride sharing is a bigger focus right now. Right now is still mostly road testing and simulation.
Interesting was the comment on ‘rain is solved’, which means that the Waymo team developed algorithms and/or hardware that is capable of properly dealing with rain and raindrops and is not getting interfered by that. Also snow seems to be solvable, as there will probably similar patterns that the sensors get in their signals. That they are testing it and are confident to solve that by next year is a great sign.
Also that they are wanting to do that without safety driver is bold, but exciting. All the cogs, wheels, notches seem to be in place and the launch imminent. The headstart that Waymo has is unbelievable and will now only grow even more exponential.
This article has also been published in German.