Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Driverless minivans seen in Phoenix Arizona

In Phoenix Arizona Waymo owned by Google that is developing driverless cars released a video showing one of its driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans as part of a pubic education campaign to raise awareness about the new technology.
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Waymo to develop robot taxi service in Phoenix
Waymo is preparing for the debut of a commercial robot taxi service in Phoenix and the video was part of a campaign to educate the public about the driverless vehicles. To some. the idea of a driverless vehicle is a bit frightening.
The Arizona Department of Transportation recently gave Waymo permission to operate as a transportation network in the state.
The video goes into detail on the many sensors used by the minivan and their range. The sensors include LIDAR that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Passengers can watch data displayed on a screen.
A report last year said that the vehicles had trouble making left turns. However, in the video, the vans make several left turns with no problem so the issue must have been solved.
Waymo claims that nothing was edited for the videos. There was a person in the car for filming purposes but no safety driver.
Waymo's advertising campaign
Waymo partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Safety Council in its ad campaign.
Waymo also announced that its autonomous vehicles had now racked up one million miles over six years on public roads but in another six months that had risen to 4 million miles. In just the last 3 months it reached 5 million miles.
Waymo is an autonomous car development company and subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc. It was formed in December of 2016 as separate from Google. Waymo stands for "Way forward in mobility". Executives said its mission was to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around.
In 2017 WayMo announced it had formed a partnership with Intel to develop autonomous driving technology. In November of the same year Waymo announced it had begun testing autonomous vehicles without any safety driver.
Waymo competing with Uber
Uber has long feared that Waymo intends to operate its own ride-hailing business. Since last April Waymo has been testing its self-driving vans that will let customers hail cars through an app that is similar to the one used by Uber the San Francisco based ride-sharing business that hopes to set up a similar service. Rides in the WayMo vans are currently free but ultimately WayMo will no doubt charge for the rides.
Previously published in Digital Journal

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