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September 30, 2019

Waymo teams up with AAA to teach kids about self-driving

  • , company news

At Waymo, we’re passionate about educating everyone on self-driving technology. While we’re working to increase access to our ride-hailing program, Waymo One, that allows people to experience and learn about this technology first hand, we also want to do our part to make resources available to those who have not yet experienced this technology.

It’s especially exciting to educate kids on the subject, because, as people growing up with this evolving tech, they’re in a position to offer unique perspectives on the experience. Plus, they will soon be the people contributing to this technology and the promises we believe it holds: to make it safer and easier for all people and things to get around.

We recently teamed up with AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, Mothers Against Driving, The Foundation for Blind Children, The National Safety Council, and other like-minded organizations to launch Let’s Talk Self-Driving. This campaign aims to educate people about how self-driving technology can save lives and make our roads more inclusive by improving independence and creating new mobility options for everyone.

“The partnership with Waymo and many other notable like-minded organizations in the Let’s Talk Self-Driving campaign is a critical addition to our efforts in advocating for our Members and educating the public around automated driving technology,” says Ignacio Garcia, Vice President, Autonomous Vehicle Strategy for AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah. “Over a century ago, AAA led America’s transition from the horse-and-buggy to the motor car. Our goal now is to again be the public’s trusted advocate for self-driving cars, especially focused on safety.”

And because AAA shares our mission to widely spread this information, we hosted AAA School Safety Patrol members and students at our closed-course facility last month to show them fully self-driving cars in action. In addition to seeing some exciting demos, they learned how Waymo vehicles can see all around them and predict how other road users might behave so the Waymo cars can make safe driving decisions, very quickly. Students also got to ride in Waymo vehicles to experience fully self-driving technology for themselves.

Nathan, one of the Martin Elementary School students from South San Francisco who attended the demonstration, was enthusiastic about his experience. “It’s cool that they can sense things and stop on their own without you having to press the brake, especially if somebody is running across the street, or there’s a bike and it will stop automatically, you won’t have to do anything,” he shares, adding that self-driving cars “would definitely be a lot safer since the people who are distracted aren’t in control.”

His teacher, Deborah Carlino, a AAA School Safety Patrol Advisor of the Year, agrees whole-heartedly. “I spend a lot of time advocating for safety on the road because it’s imperative that we create systems that help children to be safe,” she notes. “ I think it’s essential that little people be a part of these decisions just as much as adults. They get to see that they have a voice, and that’s very exciting.”

To mark the 100-year anniversary of the AAA School Safety Patrol program, AAA has created a School Safety Lesson Plan as a free downloadable resource that grade school teachers can use. As part of that effort, AAA partnered with Waymo to develop a Lesson Plan module about self-driving cars that encourages students to think about ways to make driving safer and how autonomous vehicles can reduce unsafe behavior such as texting and eating while driving.

“I think it’s really important for everyone to be a part of the conversation about self-driving cars,” Carlino says, “because it’s removing irresponsible people and irresponsible actions, and helping everybody to get home.”

We’re excited to help this next generation experience Waymo and get them thinking about how we can make our roads safer and more accessible for everyone.