Waymo's robotic taxi service is only partially autonomous
A few days ago, representatives of Waymo announced the launch of a commercial service of robotic taxis that are able to deliver a passenger from point "A" to point "B" with minimal time losses. And earlier it was reported that the service will be completely autonomous. In fact, it turned out that robotaksi are not completely autonomous - there is an operator in the driver’s seat (as it is called in the company), capable of taking control in the event of an unforeseen situation.
In addition, despite the fact that Waymo announced a commercial, rather than a test launch of a taxi service, only a limited number of passengers can use its services. We are talking about those people who took part in the tests of Waymo rob-mobiles - and there are not so many of them, only a few hundred people.
At the same time, the “testers” say that there are problems with the romo mobiles, there are a lot of them - especially this is a turn to the left, infusion into the traffic lane on the highway and some other situations
. These are reviews of the systems created by the leader of the robokar industry. Waymo is now ahead of the rest of the planet, both in terms of the development of its systems (it all started 10 years ago) and in the number of kilometers it has rolled around. No other company can boast such extensive experience as Waymo has.
By the way, intensive tests were conducted for a year and a half, the developers hoped that they could solve all the problems and eliminate the bottlenecks of their technology. But it seems that not all the points of the plan were fulfilled.
The biggest problem is that the service customers may be far from all that already mentioned above. This is rather an extended beta test than the commercial operation of robots. It is unlikely that a couple of hundreds of customers may be of interest to Waymo, which invested many millions of dollars in its development.
In an interview with journalists, the company's spokesman declined to name the number of those who had access to the "open commercial service." In the event that there were a lot of customers, there would already be photos and interviews on the network, but for the time being there are few or no nt. Journalists are not yet able to find those who have already used the service of robotaxi.
There are no satisfied customers in social networks, the number of company subscribers on Instagram is only about 2.5 thousand, not more. Of course, subscribers are not an indicator, but usually from the very first day, large-scale services that have their accounts in social networks show an increase in subscribers, estimated at tens and hundreds of thousands of people. Reddit users have noticed other oddities .
It was decided to place the driver of the “security operator” on the spot only immediately before the launch of the service itself. Previously, many media reported that the service will be completely autonomous. Then people were still decided to leave as a "control element". This is done in the name of "public safety".
Perhaps because in a completely autonomous mode, the Waymo machines only rolled in a relatively limited location, in Chandler, Arizona, where the traffic is not too big. And now it is still unknown what percentage of ro-mobiles did not have “security operators” in the cabin. The company refuses to disclose figures and provide test data beyond those that go to regulators.
One journalist has been writing about Waymo for several months now. From October to November of this year, he tracks the company's robocarks in action. In his opinion, there is no talk about complete robotization. There are a lot of problems, many of them are quite serious. So, for example, it takes a minute and a half to change the lane, at least a minute and a half.
One of the robomobiles stood stubbornly in a lane where there was no movement due to the accident that had occurred ahead. Drivers-people immediately understood the problem and went to another lane. The car stubbornly kept its lane. In the end, he changed his plans and left for the left lane, but the journalist believes that the “security operator” did it (there is no evidence of this).
There is even a video recording of a similar incident - Waymo could not join the movement on the track. In the end, the robomobil never went out of its way, but just stopped.
In general, if there are really a lot of problems, then there is nothing surprising in the fact that the company decided to abandon the idea of complete autonomy and connected people drivers to the cause. Waymo can not be blamed for what the company does - by itself, safety is paramount. Perhaps the company wants to play it safe so that there are no such problems as that of Uber.
It remains only to wait for feedback on the work of the robot and hope that everything will turn out well.