Gov. Doug Ducey and Jennifer Haroon sit in the backseat of the Waymo car. (Photo by Shavon Rose Photography, courtesy of Waymo)

December 15, 2016

AZ Big Media

Gov. Ducey takes a ride in self-driving Waymo car

Earlier this week it was announced that Google’s self-driving car project would be spun off into an independent company called Waymo.

And to help kick-off the new company, Gov. Doug Ducey took an inaugural demo ride inside of a Waymo car.

Waymo has been developing its self-driving car since 2009. (Photo by Jesse A. Millard, Az Business magazine)
Waymo has been developing its self-driving car since 2009. (Photo by Jesse A. Millard, Az Business magazine)

With Ducey’s detail following close behind, the car drove him off and took him for a spin around Downtown Chandler.

Ducey called the ride “silky smooth,” and was impressed by the technology.

“The feeling of safety and security is really high” Ducey said about his ride.

Although he had a conversation during the drive, Ducey figured that if he was inside of the self-driving car alone that he would be more than capable of writing documents, making phone calls or just enjoying the scenery.

Arizona was the fourth state to start testing out the cars. The company recently opened up its first facility in Chandler, and has expanded testing around the Valley.

Waymo said the Greater Phoenix area’s unique desert conditions have helped it analyze how the car’s sensors handle extreme temperatures and dust in the air.

Jennifer Haroon, head of business operations at Waymo, said the car has been under development since 2009 when it was still a Google project.

The self-driving car has driven almost 2.5 million miles on public roads, she said. Although it’s hard for Waymo to put a time stamp on when you’ll be able to purchase a self-driving car, Haroon said the cars will be available sooner than folks think.

One of the main focuses of these self-driving cars is safety, which is why it’s so hard for a release date for the cars, Haroon said.

Everybody spends a lot of time inside of their cars, whether it’s commuting to work or picking up the kids from school. Self-driving cars could be a huge game changer, allowing people with disabilities and the elderly get around, while also providing a safer environment.