Inside look of Waymo early rider program

Above: A Pacifica Hybrid minivan outfitted with Waymo's self-driving vehicle technology. (Photo courtesy of Waymo) Business News | 13 Jun |

Waymo, the self-driving car company that has been testing its cars in Arizona since 2016, released details on its early rider program about how the nearly 400 volunteers have been using the self-driving cars. 

The participating households have family members between the ages of 9 and 69, according to Waymo, and the company has been learning how people would incorporate self-driving cars into their lives.  

Video provided by Waymo

Waymo is a spin-off from Google, which started the self-driving vehicle program in 2009. 

The company has reached many milestones, most recently clocking in 5 million miles across its test cities on public roads. 

Riders in Waymo’s early rider program have been taking the self-driving vehicles to places like restaurants, appointments and even Chandler Fashion Center Mall for errands. During trips, the riders catch up on homework, read email and books, or just relax and enjoy the ride. 

The volunteers include a former Peace Corps volunteer who doesn’t have a car, and a family with only one car. The self-driving car helps these early riders get to destinations like after-school activities, doctor’s visits, grocery stores and so much more.  

Waymo is also learning about how riders interface with the self-driving car. The company is developing systems that allow riders to ask questions or get assistance during the journey. 

According to Waymo, riders can talk about what route the car will take or inform the car they need to go back because they left their sunglasses someplace.  

Waymo is also figuring out how the car should wake someone up if they fall asleep in the car during the trip.  

Waymo states it’s learning how to make contacting the car seamless and that the trip is enjoyable for the riders.  

Late last year, Waymo has hinted that it would be launching a public ride-sharing service in the Phoenix area. Waymo already has the permits to operate such a service in Arizona.  

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