by Graham Pierrepoint
Google have inarguably made strides to try and change the world of tech in many different ways – and one of their most-reported projects has been the driverless car, a controversial topic which could see passengers driving themselves to work without need for a licence. It’s thought that Google and their parent company, Alphabet, also have rights to certain robotics patents – and an announcement regarding their driverless car system has emerged, resulting in many discussing what place it will have in a world that Uber is largely struggling to keep up with amid a controversial year. The project now has a name – Waymo – and it is being offered via Alphabet, and will be available on a limited basis within months.
This news is fairly epoch-making – many may have worried that the tech was to be years away – while others aren’t so keen on the tech at all. It’s been reported that Waymo will be available as an automated ride-hailing service – essentially, Uber without the driver – and it is thought that the cars will be available to hail over the coming months in Phoenix, Arizona, where there is a public trial currently underway. The service will also be free initially – perhaps largely to get users accustomed to the idea – though it will likely become chargeable in the months to come.
Waymo’s designers asserted that public road testing has been a big success and that there have been a number of big safety features fitted in to ensure that riders can always be assured of safety during trips. It is the first big move in automated cars outright – and while many firms have already been testing their techniques and vehicles, this will be the first time that such a big roll out is occurring without some form of manual control to act as a safety back-up.
Independent statistics show that Waymo is thought to be 5000 times more effective on the streets that ‘traditional’ Uber fleets – which could mean that the latter firm could be facing a whole new type of competition in the years to come. After a particularly difficult year for the firm, it is inarguably time that Uber started to really gear up their revamp – to save public face and to compete with autonomous tech in future. Let’s see what happens next – would you be happy to jump in a driverless car?