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October 31, 2019

Safety at Waymo | It’s not magic, it’s Waymo’s engineering!

  • Technology
Camera video from the Waymo Driver on Halloween of trick-or-treaters
Camera video from the Waymo Driver on Halloween of trick-or-treaters

Halloween is a fun and exciting night. People dress up as robots, fairies, or their favorite superhero. Parents and children travel from house to house, creating a great sense of community. However, behind all of this fun is a scary reality: Halloween is one of the deadliest days of the year for pedestrians in the US. 

According to the National Safety Council, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year, so we need to be extra vigilant around pedestrians, leave with plenty of time to get where we are going, and to enter and exit driveways carefully.

Our self-driving vehicles are designed to see 360 degrees in every direction, day or night, and as far as three football fields away with the goal of improving road safety every night, including Halloween.

Just like a good driver, our cars need to recognize objects like pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users, and be able to predict what they might do next, no matter if they are dressed as a witch or a spider with eight arms. When it comes to driving, experience is the best teacher. Through machine learning, we are teaching our system to detect pedestrians in their many appearances, leaning on our 10 million miles of self-driving on public roads.

Camera video from the Waymo Driver in Arizona of people dressed up in inflatable dinosaur costumes

When our vehicles comes across an unusual and unfamiliar event, such as a group of people dressed as dinosaurs dancing on a corner, our system recognizes there is something strange going on and we proceed more cautiously. We also drive even more conservatively around children because we expect them to behave less predictably than adults.

We drive 365 nights of the year, but like you we must prepare to handle the complexities that come with driving on Halloween night. Our vehicles will help our riders reach the festivities and popular trick or treating locations to celebrate safely and you can count on our trained Waymo drivers to be extra vigilant for monsters and minions this week. A car that can drive itself might be this generation’s flying carpet, but it’s not magic, it’s Waymo engineering!