It’s been in the air, as of today it’s official: Waymo has started test operations for a robotaxi service in San Francisco with test passengers. At least 80 electric Jaguar iPace equipped with the so-called 5th generation ‘Waymo Driver’ will now be available to San Francisco residents who are part of the test program as autonomous driving robot cabs.
From the announcement and the video, it is not yet entirely clear whether the vehicles will be completely driverless, as they were in Phoenix in Arizona, or whether there will still be a safety driver in the vehicle. But San Francisco is several degrees more complex than Phoenix. That’s why initially only a few neighborhoods will be served.
The rides are not yet commercial, requiring first approval from the California Public Untillity Commmision (CPUC), which is responsible for cab registrations. Cruise, another manufacturer owned by General Motors, already has such approval but has not yet begun official passenger service.
Welche aktuellen Ängste prägen uns? Mit welchen Ängsten waren die Menschen in der Vergangenheit konfrontiert, als es die heutigen Technologien noch nicht gab? Warum mischen wir heute im Wettbewerb der Kulturen um neue Technologien nicht ganz vorne mit? Welche Maßnahmen müssen wir ergreifen, um neue Technologien nicht als etwas Beängstigendes und Feindseliges zu betrachten, sondern als ein Mittel zur Lösung der großen Probleme der Menschheit?
This makes Waymo the second robotaxi fleet in the U.S. to operate with passengers. The one in Phoenix is open to all, is operated driverless and is commercial. The one in San Francisco is currently for select test passengers only and is non-commercial and presumably with a safety driver. In Phoenix itself, it took about two years before the vehicles were offered without a safety driver and commercial service began.
Cruise is also expected to begin testing its fleet of robot taxis with passengers this year. Unlike Waymo, Cruise has also developed its own type of vehicle, the so-called Cruise Origin. In Shenzhen, China, AutoX has a driverless robotaxi fleet on the road. A forecast of how the successive launch of further robotaxi fleets could take place in the next few years can be found here.
This article was also published in German.