(VIDEO) First fully driverless taxis shuttle Phoenix patrons eerily, competently
Isn't the future terrifying awesome?
Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has begun to release its fleet of AI overlords driverless cars in Phoenix, Arizona with no human observers. This fleet of cars will be the first to service public citizens with no human aid. At first, there will be Waymo employees in the back seat observing the cars driving behavior, but in the following months, patrons will have the option to ride in completely driverless taxis.
With the likes of Apple, Tesla, and countless others looking to invade the incipient "smart car" space, Waymo chose to enter first into the driverless taxi service. Modifying Chrysler Pacifica's and, for the last year, allowing them to drive around Phoenix's metropolitan area with human pilots, the company now begins the transition to fully driverless taxis. Aiding these taxis are a number of sensors, extremely detailed 3D maps of the area, and the Arizona city's near-ideal driving conditions. For now, these taxi's can drive only within a section of Phoenix that is particularly easy to drive in, due to the almost-always sunny skies and low traffic. The idea here is to give the cars a small area in which to drive and learn intimately, and later on expand to bigger, more populated areas of Phoenix. Waymo then hopes to take this show to other, colder metropolitan areas throughout the country, recently expanding testing to Detroit, Michigan.
While certainly jarring at first, the video shows cars driving human passengers competently and safely with no input from the skinned-breathers. Like many new technologies, Waymo, and others, are counting on the public getting used to such sights and conveniences, just as the citizens of Phoenix have.