Most Riders Satisfied, Others Report Dangerous Situations
“It’s not even on the same…road. Right now it is 97 degrees and 45 percent humidity and it took me almost 15 minutes with FORTY POUNDS OF GROCERIES to get home. I had to stop 3 times to rest. It’s been about 15 minutes since I got home and I’m STILL [pouring] sweat. You HAVE to let your drivers override the car in situations like this. I’m 53 years old and this is DANGEROUS.”
Ouch. This was the comments from a Phoenix, Arizona woman who used Waymo’s autonomous vehicle for a ride home from a grocery store. Waymo, the Alphabet-owned self-driving car company has been operating in Phoenix and San Francisco for the past two years. Waymo insists its first concern is passenger safety.
In an exclusive article on TheInformation.com, author Amir Efrati reveals the company reviewed a great amount of feedback data from 10,500 trips that took place in July and part of August this year. These trips were mostly in Phoenix and they do show an improvement in the percentage of happy passangers over last year. Riders gave a perfect rating to 70% of the trips they took during the period. But there are still serious issues with some of the vehicles.
Riders complained about being uncomfortable with certain the moves the autopilots made. Braking too hard was a common complaint. Or stopping and freezing in the road over a tree branch.
“Excessive braking for almost the entire ride,” read one Waymo employee’s review. “I got very carsick. Almost pressed the pullover button so I could barf.”
There are buttons for the riders to operate that will tell the car when to start the trip, but customers have reported cars starting before everyone was strapped inproperly.
Bay Area Reports Problems, Too
Most of the trips in the data that was reviewed occured in Phoenix. Even though the Valley of the Sun is laid out in a nearly perfect grid that’s easy to navigate, there were complaints. In the San Francisco area, the Waymo project had even more damning commments, which came from employees who are encouraged to use the service.
“All of our Bay Area test riders are Waymo employees,” a Waymo representative said. “We push ourselves to give rigorous, critical feedback on every ride, including rides rated 5 stars, which helps us continuously improve our product.”
And the Steve McQueen movie Bullit showed, San Francisco streets are notoriously crooked and narrow, with lots of pedestrians.
During test drives, Waymo passengers usually aren’t alone. A designated “safety driver” sits behind the wheel, but with their hands in their laps instead of controlling the vehicle.
Futurism.com reports: Many passengers complained about “weird drop-offs, circuitous routes, and shaky driving,” but others applauded their Waymo taxi for “coping admirably with idiot drivers of the human variety” during their ride.
One Waymo van froze in the road for 15 minutes before the driver took over. Needless to say there is still work to be done before Waymo hits the 100% satisfaction rate, if that is even possible.
J.D. Power’s recent survey of auto and tech industry professionals shows that experts predict it will be “at least 12 years” before fully autonomous vehicles will be sold on the market. Elon Musk, says he wants to put one million robo-taxi Teslas on the market next year – pending regulatory approval. The end goal is having streets filled with smart vehicles, thus reducing the actual number of accidents and/or traffic deaths would make everybody happy⏤if it’s achievable.
read more at futurism.com