Waymo One, the self-driving ride-hailing subsidiary of Alphabet, will be offering rideshare services in the Phoenix area. Waymo has already been offering rides for a couple of years but always with a back-up safety operator behind the wheel. However, now the service is offering fully-automated driverless rides.
Self-Driving Vehicle Ride-Hailing in Arizona
Starting service on October 8th, Waymo One users will be able to request a ride on the app with some users having the option to take a ride in the driverless minivans, under “rider only” mode. For now, these “rider only” vehicles will be limited to the Phoenix area, within about a 50-square-mile range, including parts of Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.
While driverless, these vehicles still have fleet support staff who monitor the vehicles remotely. The fleet responders can monitor multiple vehicles at the same time. According to Waymo, two or three vehicles for now, possibly expanding up to 10 to 20 vehicles per support operator.
Launching of these driverless robotaxis comes about 2 ½ years after an Uber self-driving car killed a pedestrian crossing the road. That fatal accident occurred in Tempe, one of the areas where the Waymo driverless rideshares are operating. In September, the back-up safety driver of the Uber vehicle was charged with negligent homicide for her role in the fatal accident.
Waymo Criticism from Tesla CEO
Tesla's CEO criticized Waymo's autonomous vehicle technology on Twitter. Elon Musk said on Twitter, “Waymo is impressive but a highly specialized solution. The Tesla approach is a general solution. The latest build is capable of zero intervention drives.”
Criticism of the Waymo approach is based on the system's reliance on maps. Musk said Tesla followed a similar approach for too long before adopting alternative strategies. “Our new system of driving in locations we never seen even once.”
Tesla has had similar problems with fatal accidents blamed on faulty self-driving technology. The family of a man killed in a Tesla accident filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the auto company. According to that complaint, the Tesla in autopilot mode was approaching a vehicle pulled off to the side of the road. Instead of stopping or going around the vehicles, the Tesla accelerated, striking and killing a 44-year-old man.
No RoboTaxis Yet for Denver
For now, autonomous vehicles are not allowed for ride-sharing in Colorado. The autopilot vehicle programs in Colorado have been limited to tests or trials, including a shuttle service by EasyMile to connect passengers from the 61st and Peña commuter rail station to the Park-n-Ride lot. The demonstration project shut down in August 2019.
One of the other Colorado self-driving tests involved a semi shipping 45,000 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. During this 120-mile and 2-hour journey, an onboard driver was behind the wheel as a backup, and when going on and off the highway ramps.
There is still a lot of confusion for drivers involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft vehicle. Even the rideshare drivers may not be sure what happens next or who will pay for the damages. If you were injured in a Lyft or Uber accident in the greater Denver metropolitan area, please do not hesitate to contact accidentdenver.com today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation. We are here to help.