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After five million miles of autonomous driving, Alphabet’s Waymo wants to get consumers comfortable with self-driving

Release Date:2018-03-01

Waymo

Two years ago — and some of 2017 — the self-driving space was in the midst of a period of consolidation, as automakers scrambled to get ahold of the tech companies building out the driverless software.

Last year, automakers regained some of the upper hand, as tech companies sought out manufacturing partners and as more driverless tests began popping up on public roads.

This year, self-driving companies will focus on gaining rider trust as they ramp up to launch their commercial ride-hail services.

In a new video, Alphabet’s self-driving arm, Waymo, is taking potential passengers inside its driverless Chrysler Pacifica vans and giving them a 360-degree view of what the car sees, as well as how it works.

Waymo YouTube

It’s no secret that Waymo has made considerable progress since its 2009 inception. Nine years later, the company has driven five million miles in autonomous mode — the last million of which Waymo achieved in just three months. It’s a considerable feat for a company that took six years to drive the first million miles.

Johana Bhuiyan is the senior transportation editor at Recode and can be reached at johana@recode.net or on Signal, Confide, WeChat or Telegram at 516-233-8877. You can also find her on Twitter at @JmBooyah.


While the company, which is already operating a fully driverless service in a small part of Phoenix, Ariz., is working out the technical side of operating self-driving cars, it has also been focusing on educating consumers on how it works — a logical step as Waymo prepares to expand its pilot and begin operating a ride-hail service.

We’ve already seen a glimpse of initial attempts from other companies to garner consumer trust with, for instance, Intel’s recent self-driving commercial starring LeBron James and Uber’s educational campaign aimed at humanizing the experience of both building the cars and riding in them.

For Waymo, this is the third in a series of steps to gain the trust of the public. The first was to start a public education campaign in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other organizations in response to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s call to companies to step up and raise awareness about the technology.

In addition to these public-awareness campaigns, companies like Waymo and Uber have also worked on gaining riders’ trust by showing what self-driving cars see on screens inside the vehicle.

Watch the full video video below:


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