Artificial Intelligence has brought the human race a lot of gifts, self-driving cars (like Waymo) are one of those priceless gifts. Although, when it reaches this part of the world, Nigerians might have a problem accepting this technology (even though our roads don’t currently support the invention), we still can’t doubt the fact that the level of ease it will bring is incomparable.
Every step matters at Waymo
1. How did Waymo begin?
You already know what a self-driving car does, it “drives all by itself” of course, but what you probably don’t know is that the team in charge have been working on the self-driving technology since 2009, and an autonomous car has various levels of autonomy.
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Google has been known to invest a lot of cash into its self-driving technology. The company initiated robotic car laws nationwide, and then went ahead to build a massive fleet of driverless pods that eventually roamed around Silicon Valley.
After a while, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, took over the entire project and in 2016, Alphabet announced that Waymo would spearhead this autonomous driving project from that moment forward. So, Waymo didn’t have to build the vehicles itself anymore, they began to collaborate with auto manufacturers.
Prior to 2016, the Google self-driving car project (which it was formerly called) set out to drive autonomously over ten uninterrupted 100-mile routes in Toyota Prius vehicles.
In 2012, they added the Lexus RX450h to the fleet and invited some Google employees to start early testing of the technology on highways. The Google project began to focus on complex environments, learning to navigate city streets with pedestrians, road work, traffic lights, and more. In 2017, Waymo partnered with FCA to add the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan to their fleet. This is the first vehicle built on a mass-production platform with a fully-integrated hardware suite designed by Waymo.
Residents in Phoenix, Arizona were invited to join Waymo in the first public trial of self-driving vehicles and in 2018, Waymo One launched in Phoenix.
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The mini self-driving car is part of the first project of Waymo
2. Where is Waymo available?
Currently, Waymo One riders are currently able to take rides within parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert.
Also, Waymo has testing locations in California, Texas, Washington, Georgia, and Michigan.
Speaking of Waymo's expansion, the availability of Waymo in states asides Phoenix entirely depends on the laws that govern self-driving cars. Generally, driverless cars will only be available in locations where it is legal to operate them.
Arizona has some of the friendliest laws for self-driving cars and the East Valley of Phoenix Arizona is currently the only place where Waymo can be used. The Waymo Car operates around the clock, seven days a week, and riders can travel anywhere in the assigned territory day and night.
Waymo SUV's are designed for luxurious service
3. How does Waymo One work?
Each Waymo car is equipped with a LIDAR system (Light Detection and Ranging), a technology that uses lasers to generate a highly accurate representation of the area around a self-driving car. LIDAR is able to generate a complete 360-degree view of the world around a Waymo car.
Before the Cars operate in any location, the team builds detailed three-dimensional maps that highlight information such as road profiles, crosswalks, curbs and sidewalks, traffic lights, stop signs, lane markers, and other road features.
The 360-degree view constantly scans for objects around the vehicle - road work, pedestrians, cyclists, obstructions, vehicles. The censors continuously read traffic controls, from traffic light color and railroad crossing gates to temporary stop signs.
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Each Waymo car is equipped with a LIDAR system
The software predicts the movements of everything around the Car based on their speed and trajectory. It understands that a vehicle will move differently than a cyclist or pedestrian. The software then uses that information to predict the many possible paths that other road users may take.
With the information gathered within seconds, the software determines the exact trajectory, speed, lane, and steering maneuvers it needs to take in order to keep driving safely through that route.
4. What should we expect next from Waymo?
As expected, Waymo will continue to expand beyond Phoenix. Arizona has to make it a part of her everyday life, then America and then, they can focus on making transportation safe and easy for the rest of the world.
In the meantime, Waymo is working on self-driving trucks. The software is learning to drive big rigs just the same way a human driver would. The driving principles are mostly the same, but things like turning, braking, and blind spots are different with a fully-loaded truck and trailer.
Road tests of Waymo’s self-driving trucks have kicked off in California, Arizona, and Georgia.
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Waymo will launch self-driving trucks soon
5. Android users in Metro Phoenix can now download the Waymo app
For residents of Metropolitan Phoenix, Waymo’s ride-hailing app is now available on Google Play. Unlike the regular Uber, Waymo has a waitlist for interested riders. They just have to download the app from the Google Play store and join the waitlist to ride. Once accepted from the waitlist, they’ll be able to request rides on the app.
The interior has more advanced technological features
No doubt, the circulation of the self-driving car will definitely take years, but it will surely happen. There are other self-driving cars like Lyft, Uber, and Intel but for now, Waymo seems to be the current one in operation.
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