“We are excited about a whole number of applications of what we call the world’s most experienced driver,” says Dan Chu, Waymo’s Chief Product Officer. We’re really focused on the core technology. We have ride-hailing, long-haul trucking, and then delivery as well. We’re also interested in personally owned cars. We’re very excited about the long haul trucking opportunity. We’ve already done a pilot with Google shipping some of their datacenter parts in Atlanta.”
Driverless Ride-Hailing, Long-Haul Trucking, and Delivery
We are excited about a whole number of applications of what we call the world’s most experienced driver. We’re really focused on the technology and core technology. We have ride-hailing, long-haul trucking, and then delivery as well. We’re also interested in personally owned cars. Many of our OEM partners are interested in that. I think we will be rolling those out over the course of the next few years.
We’re very excited about the long haul trucking opportunity. There’s a lot of demand for it. There’s really a foundation for it in the economy so we’re definitely interested in it. In fact, we’ve been working on this since 2017. We’ve already done a pilot with Google shipping some of their datacenter parts in Atlanta.
We’ve Been Rolling Out Fully Driverless Rides
The rollout (of driverless ride-hailing) has been going really well. I’m really excited about the progress. We started in 2017 launching an early rider program where we had over 20,000 people sign up in just a matter of days. Nowadays, we have thousands of riders that are taking rides. Most importantly, over the last few months, we’ve actually been rolling out fully driveless rides. Now we have riders in our rider programs in Phoenix who can hail a ride with a mobile app and have a car show up that has no driver at all and go ahead and take various trips with it.
We definitely have global ambitions. Our mission is really to make every single mile safer. We definitely want to get everywhere as soon as we can. But we do think the rollout will be city by city. It will be incremental. We will continue to expand as we are in metro Phoenix and go then beyond from there. We’ve already driven in over 25 cities. We’ve been testing in new ones as well. For instance, recently we started testing in Miami and we’ve also started testing in Los Angeles.
We’ve Always Had An Approach Of Launching Incrementally
I have ridden in one (of our driverless cars). It’s an important part of our culture at Waymo for us to actually be what we call dogfooding or trying our own products. It’s an incredible experience. We really think it brings that bit of independence and that privacy and that time to yourself. I really do believe it’s a whole new product.
We’ve always had an approach of launching this incrementally. We think that’s the safest and responsible way of getting this technology out. If you look at the history of our project we’ve had the first self-driving car ride or a fully driverless ride in Austin. Then we had a fleet of vehicles in 2017. Then our Wymo One launched at the end of last year. So we’ve taken it incrementally and I think we’ve been doing that steady approach for a while.
I’m Convinced Of The Benefits Of Self-Driving Technology
I’m really convinced around the social impact and the benefits that self-driving technology will have. We look at road safety which is really core to the mission of Waymo. Over 1.35 million lives are lost on the roads every single year on a global basis. That’s one of the leading causes of death. Even in the United States, that number has been going up. Over the last five years, that number has actually increased and has gone the wrong way. For those reasons, road safety and some of the other benefits it might have on the environment and space usage it’s definitely the right focus for our attention.
We want to be part of the solution (in terms of jobs). One of the things here is that this change will be incremental. It’ll take time to roll out. The second is that we want to be part of creating jobs. Right now in Phoenix were already seeing some of that happening. We’re creating whole new categories of jobs that never existed before such as a Lidar technician or an AV technician.
Lastly, I think the other thing that often isn’t discussed in that conversation is around how mobility is an important part of employment. By giving people access to jobs is they’re going to be able to get those jobs. We know that in the United States over 20 to 30 million adult Americans aren’t able to get driver’s licenses for any number of reasons. So between the creation of jobs and giving access those are some of the ways that we hope to be a part of the solution.