Get a Feel of What It's like to Ride inside Waymo's Driverless Cars

Ride inside Waymo's autonomous minivan 1 photo
Photo: YouTube screenshot
When it comes to the progress in self-driving technology, everyone involved is keeping their cards close to their chests. Don't be fooled by Waymo's periodic reports: it's still plenty secretive, and given what's at stake - an industry worth billions of dollars - so it should.
Tesla has been the black sheep of the herd, blabbing on and on about how advanced its vehicles are and how it had cracked the code and it's now only a matter of gathering enough miles under its belt until it can roll out a Level 4 vehicle. Elon Musk's company might be on to something, and given its approximately 150,000-strong "test fleet" gathering data as we speak, it might not be long before it gets the chance to put its money where its mouth is.

Meanwhile, Waymo has just clocked five million miles of autonomous driving on public roads, which may be far from the billions posted by Tesla, but it's still an impressive achievement - and likely the most any other company can brag about considering Google, the parent of Waymo, was among the first to go down this path.

Unlocking the secrets of AI-controlled vehicles is only the first step. The second one, just as important, will be to convince people to trust the technology. We already place our safety in the hands of others every time we board a plane or climb into a cab, but those are human beings. Now, we're asked to trust a machine, and that's a bit harder since we tend not to like things that only see the world in ones and zeroes.

Waymo knows that so it released a video meant to make the self-driving car a much friendlier proposition. Despite having an extended fleet of vehicles these days thanks to its collaboration with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the startup still can't offer autonomous rides to everyone interested in experiencing it. So it turned to technology instead.

The video below includes a sequence filmed in 360-degree mode from inside the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid as the minivan moved down a street in Arizona. That's the closest a lot of us will ever get to being the passenger in a self-driving car before the technology becomes mainstream, but it's enough to reproduce the sensation of helplessness you get from feeling so out of control.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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