The indefatigable J.J. Ricks, a student in Phoenix, keeps us updated with dozens of videos of his rides in a driverless Waymo One on his YouTube channel. Today he posted a new tidbit for us, namely how the Waymo indicates during an onset of rain that it will stop and pull over to the side of the road. The subsequent manual takeover by the safety driver and J.J. Ricks’ communication with Waymo’s operations center provide insight into Waymo’s safety protocols and state of the art.
What was also unusual this time was that in this vehicle, which J.J. Ricks, who keeps precise records of his driverless rides, had driven without a safety driver in the past, there was a female safety driver this time. Presumably, because of the rain forecast, Waymo had played it safe.
In any case, it’s not exactly clear from the video whether the Waymo vehicle could have safely driven on its own despite the rain, or whether Waymo is simply still cautious about the conditions under which a safety driver must take over. As Ricks also chimes in as a comment in the video, the monitor still seems to clearly depict all objects and the course of the road for customers. So it may be that there was still, say, 99.99% safety or perception level, but Waymo insists on at least 99.999% (however that particular safety or perception level is defined).
Starting at minute 7:25, the vehicle warns that it needs to stop and pulls over to the right side, followed by manual takeover and talking to dispatch.
This article was also published in German.