Many commuters in Chandler, Arizona don’t seem to care much for Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, which have been testing extensively there ahead of the launch of Alphabet Inc. subsidiary’s autonomous cab service in the state. More than a dozen locals who work in the area, encountering the Waymo vehicles on a regular basis during their commutes, expressed their discontentment to The Information (subscription required).
The problem: the vehicles are reportedly just too hesitant not to be a nuisance. One woman told The Information that she nearly hit one of the vehicles as it came to an abrupt halt attempting to make a righthand turn. Another person admitted that he illegally passes the vehicles when he gets frustrated waiting for them to work up the courage to cross the intersection.
Waymo says that its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids are “continually learning,” and that safety is the company’s highest priority – a mentality that could explain why the vehicles drive so conservatively on the road. Even if autonomous vehicles are made significantly safer than any human driver, most consumers won’t tolerate a single traffic fatality from one, and Waymo knows that.
A spokesperson told The Information that feedback from its pilot autonomous cab program will help inform future improvements made to its self-driving tech. The Alphabet subsidiary is working toward getting its self-driving cab fleet ready to launch a commercial service by the end of the year, although each autonomous vehicle will still be accompanied by a hired “chaperone”.