Waymo announced it offers fully driverless service in Phoenix

According to the company’s blog, Waymo announced that

Over time, as we improved the capability of our Waymo Driver, we increased the scope and quantity of our operations. It was 5-10% of our rides in 2020 being fully driverless for our exclusive group of early riders under NDA. We’ve been gathering key learnings from these riders on how to optimize our driverless service experience and continuously improve it. In fact, in their words, it’s a magical experience! We also began to offer more people access to our public Waymo One service, with a vehicle operator monitoring the ride.

Beginning today, October 8, we’re excited to open up our fully driverless offering to Waymo One riders. Members of the public service can now take friends and family along on their rides and share their experience with the world. We’ll start with those who are already a part of Waymo One and, over the next several weeks. In addition, we are very welcome more people directly into the service through our app (available on Google Play and the App Store).

In the near term, 100% of our rides will be fully driverless. We expect our new fully driverless service to be very popular. What’s more, we’re thankful to our riders for their patience as we ramp up availability to serve demand. Later this year, after we’ve finished adding in-vehicle barriers between the front row and the rear passenger cabin for in-vehicle hygiene and safety, we’ll also be re-introducing rides with a trained vehicle operator. It will add capacity and allow us to serve a larger geographical area.

Who is Waymo?

According to Wikipedia (in English), we can see the company profile of Waymo in the following way.

Waymo LLC is an American autonomous driving technology development company. It is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google. Waymo operates a commercial self-driving taxi service in Chandler, Arizona called “Waymo One”. Users in Chandler use an app to request a pick-up. As of February 2020, Waymo offered the only commercial self-driving car service that operated fully autonomously, without safety backup drivers in the vehicle.

In May 2020, Waymo announced its first outside funding round of $2.25 billion. On June 25, 2020, Waymo announced a partnership with Volvo to integrate Waymo’s self-driving technology into their vehicles. In October 2020, the company announced the first commercial robotaxi service available to the public. In fact, the operational domain is areas of the greater Phoenix region with Chandler, Arizona fully mapped.

What is driverless service (autonomous driving)?

According to the webpage in BMW, experts define autonomous driving as follows

 Level 1: Driver Assistance, driver assistance systems support the driver, but do not take control.

Level 2: Partly Automated Driving, systems can also take control, but the driver remains responsible for operating the vehicle.

Level 3: Highly Automated Driving, in certain situations, the driver can disengage from the driving for extended periods of time.

Level 4: Fully Automated Driving, the vehicle drives independently most of the time. The driver must remain able to drive, but can, for example, take a nap.

Level 5: Full Automation, the vehicle assumes all driving functions, the people in the vehicle are only passengers.

We will live in the age, which is called “CASE” or ACES“

At “Mondial de l’Automobile 2016”, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes‑Benz Cars, presented the company’s strategy for the mobility of the future: “connectivity, autonomous driving, sharing and electric drive systems – each of these four trends has the potential to turn our industry on its head.” Then, the word “CASE” and its concept became popular – each letter of the word is shaping the future of mobility. They stand for the fields of networking (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric).

McKinsey uses the other word “ACES” that express the same concept and just the order of the letters is different. Therefore, the word itself does not mean anything at all. Thus, we, especially for the people working in the automotive industry, have to pay attention to the concept. What’s more, they must keep eye on its influence on the industry as well as our daily life.

For example, if full automation of driverless cars is realized, we can expect many benefits such as fewer traffic accidents and deaths, more efficient driving and less emission of greenhouse gas. Therefore, the new initiative in Waymo is the important and impactful step in our society.

When it comes to the industry, automotive manufacturers must pay attention to the new technology, too. This is because autonomous driving may be one of key competitive advantages in the industry. As a result, more original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) focus on software and Volkswagen is an example. Due to the competition, we can expect more services will be available in the future.