Waymo’s fleet of robot taxis has been in operation in San Francisco for a few months now, and now The Roadshow has brought a first field report from a ride. The fleet of nearly 200 vehicles consists almost entirely of electric Jaguar iPaces equipped with the so-called Waymo Driver 5th generation.
The ride itself begins at Waymo’s largest depot on Toland Street, where you can see close to 120 vehicles parked outside. While Waymo already has a license from the California DMV to operate driverless cars in a region around Waymo’s Mountain View headquarters, it does not yet have one for San Francisco with passengers. Therefore, a safety driver still sits in the vehicle to take control if the worst happens. GM Cruise has such a license for parts of San Francisco, but so far only for trips between 11 pm and 5 am.
Interesting features of the multi-minute ride include. a brief encounter with a GM Cruise autonomous vehicle that also relies on an all-electric vehicle platform, the Chevrolet Bolt (minute 1:32); an encounter with another Waymo vehicle based on the Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivan that has been the standard for Waymo vehicles (minute 1:53); and a situation where, at one of the so-called four-way stops (an intersection with stop signs for each direction), two bicyclists squeeze into the intersection, upsetting the priority order (minute 3:19).
The tester also introduces us to the Waymo app as well as the monitor inside the vehicle, where the vehicle displays details needed by the passenger, but also allows you to request customer support or have the vehicle pull over to the side of the road.
The conclusion of tester Antuan Goodwin of The Roadshow: it was an entirely unspectacular ride, as you would expect. No excitement, a leisurely ride that got you safely to your destination. Here’s the video:
This article was also published in German.