What does the future of urban mobility look like? There are many approaches that are currently hotly debated; from flying cars to car sharing, various forecasts are currently circulating. Even though the truth is mostly in the middle of such scenarios, there is now another aspect: the robot taxis of Waymo.
Waymo’s fully self-driving cars are here (Source: Waymo)
On Friday it was announced that Google’s subsidiary Waymo has received official permission for public transportation in the state of Arizona. This means that the company, which specializes in self-driving cars, can now officially introduce a transport service that allows it to offer all the services currently available from taxi companies.
“As we continue to test drive our fleet of vehicles in greater Phoenix, we’re taking all the steps necessary to launch our commercial service this year…” – Waymo
Waymo plans to launch the intelligent mini vans on the roads this year, after having conducted extremely successful tests on public roads in November 2017. In addition to the taxi operators, the U. S. driving services Uber and Lyft are unlikely to be pleased with the automated competition, as Waymo positions itself as a direct substitute for them.
At present, journeys with Waymo’s autonomous vans are still free of charge, but price systems are soon to be announced which will integrate the service firmly into urban mobility in the cities. Even if the company has so far covered itself with regard to the TRAIFI, it will undoubtedly become a clear competitor product to Uber and the classic taxis.
Innovation Profile: Waymo
Waymo’s autonomous taxis are particularly impressive for the level of security that the Google subsidiary has integrated into its systems. In the 12-month tests, only 63 cases of intervention had to be carried out, which speaks for the highest level of safety in comparison with the autonomous solutions offered by the competition. With this very good rate and the high standards that Google has in its companies, Waymo has a good chance of becoming a hit on the streets.
Very few people have ever sat in an autonomous vehicle. Since the points of contact between the general public and such a vehicle are therefore rather small, an innovation such as Waymo’s will be perceived as extremely innovative. The uncertainty among the passengers of the robot taxi will also be high, as the factor of human intervention, however small it may be in the case of the Google solution, is still of great concern to many passengers. The complexity, however, will be no more complex than telling a taxi driver his destination. It remains to be seen how self-driving taxis are accepted in Arizona, but I believe that after a period of acclimatisation many people will switch to intelligent mini-vans. The conflict content should therefore be assessed in the middle segment.
Conclusion: Google has recognized the trend towards autonomous vehicles and with Waymo has taken a decisive step towards modern and safe urban mobility. It remains to be seen how driving is accepted in the USA and which other companies will also jump on this trend, but as we know Google, they will remain one of the pioneers for some time to come.
Post Picture: Waymo