It was on the motorway near Phoenix, Arizona, that I realised fully driverless cars might be quite a distant dream. And that was because our Google Waymo robo-taxi seemed incapable of leaving that motorway.
We were in Arizona to record a radio documentary for the BBC World Serviceabout the progress towards creating autonomous vehicles that would make our roads safer and replace human drivers with robots.
Google leads this race at the moment and for the past six months has been offering a robo-taxi service, Waymo One, to a select few early adopters in and around the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.
Our first ride with Waymo took us through the quiet suburban streets, where traffic is sparse and drivers well mannered.
Here, the minivan, fitted out with a battery of sensors and high-definition cameras, performed very impressively, handling slightly tricky left turns, spotting other road users and slowing down as it passed a school.
While a Google engineer sat behind the wheel, she never intervened and soon we relaxed and forgot that we were effectively being driven by a robot.
Source: BBC Technology News
Date: May 20th, 2019
- The report here notes that the autonomous-driving vehicle was not “assertive enough” to push over in to heavy traffic. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?
- How might you design “assertiveness” in to autonomous-driving software?