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May 13, 2021

Why I Ride with Waymo: Mike

  • Waymo One
A quote from Waymo One Rider, Mike. He says, "incidentally, my daughter isn't in a rush to get her license -- she figures she will have Waymo One when she is older to take her everywhere... as a father, I can only hope!"
A quote from Waymo One Rider, Mike. He says, "incidentally, my daughter isn't in a rush to get her license -- she figures she will have Waymo One when she is older to take her everywhere... as a father, I can only hope!"

Editor’s note: For Mike, Waymo One has become an essential way for him and his family to get where they need to go. They recently downsized to a one-car household and now rely on Waymo for critical trips, like commuting to and from work. Read more about his experience (and how he encouraged his parents and in-laws to ride) in today’s Why I Ride.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi, my name is Mike. I was born and grew up in Chicago, IL. I graduated from college there and then was hired by a semiconductor company in Arizona. I met my wife here, and now we have two awesome teenagers. We recently moved to Mesa in preparation for early retirement. I am a bit of a lifehacker and like to make sure I get a good return on investment for everything I do in life. Cars typically aren't a good investment...

Around this time, I was picked as an early rider for the Waymo program. I started taking it to work, and after crunching the numbers for gas, maintenance, insurance, upkeep, and owning a depreciating investment, it was pretty much a no-brainer that we really didn't need two cars. I sold off my car and made Waymo my choice for commuting to and from work and for trips my wife and I need to take when the other is using our car.

Describe your reaction during your first Waymo One rides (first ever and your first fully autonomous ride).

I'm a bit of a techie, so my first ride in September 2018 with a person keeping an eye on things in the front seat was fun and exciting. I envisioned a future of autonomous cars while sitting in that seat, watching the screen and realized I could close my eyes, rest, or work while leaving someone else in charge of the driving.

On my first fully autonomous ride - that was the best! With a few butterflies of excitement in my stomach, I watched the steering wheel and monitor all the way home, excited to see it work as intended! Now I snooze on the way to work each morning and listen to podcasts or make phone calls on the way home. I'm also hoping I'm the guy clocking the most hours and miles in a Waymo (let me know if I hit a benchmark please!).

What do you primarily use Waymo One for, and why do you choose to use this service over other options?

Commuting to and from work. Sometimes I will take friends and family for a ride just to watch their reactions! Priceless!

Waymo One offers affordability and flexibility. I work pretty unusual hours, so I'm glad to have it available 24 hours a day as well, and to always know if our other car breaks down, we can call Waymo One to pick us up.

Have you brought any friends or family along for a ride? If so, what have they thought?

My wife and kids love it, but the real thrill is taking my parents and in-laws for a ride. My dad was so shook up about it - he got a bit white knuckled like his first airplane flight! My in-laws were another story. They thought it was a blast and were rolling down their window pointing out the front seat to other drivers at stoplights. When we finished at our destination, my father-in-law told everyone in the parking lot about his experience, cracking jokes left and right while waiting for the car to pick us up. My friends also feel initiated into a special techie club after they've been on a ride with me.

The Waymo Driver, like human drivers, has a bit of a personality. Have you noticed that in any way?

I have turns it tends to creep up a bit like a human now and again as it gets into position to turn but only at certain intersections and not always. Sometimes it accelerates unexpectedly, as though it knows it is free and clear. Thousands of hours of experience and programming, all coming into play to create a unique ride each time, even if slightly.

What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you while riding in a Waymo? 

There have been many interesting situations, but most of them involve OTHER drivers. The Waymo Driver is the ultimate defensive driver, but that doesn't stop other drivers from making bad decisions which impact my ride. Once, just sitting waiting for a light, a car zoomed by on our left side to a left turn lane with a curb and was less than an inch from the side of my Waymo vehicle. Another time, when my Waymo was doing a left turn, a car turned into my lane then swerved out of it. My Waymo was alert and reacted both times as it does when these things happen, and I can only wonder how I would have handled it, or even my daughter who is a permit driver. Incidentally, my daughter isn't in a rush to get her license- she figures she will have Waymo One when she is older to take her a father, I can only hope!

Do you give feedback after your rides? What kinds?

On 98% of my rides, I will just give the 4-star response. The few times I do leave a note, it usually involves wait times (Waymo is obviously getting more popular), or giving credit to my Waymo for acting properly when other drivers weren't. The few times I've had to call Rider Support involved someone leaving an item in the car before me. Thankfully, I haven't done that myself (yet!).

What do you think the potential is for autonomous driving technology?

Safety for each other. If autonomous driving becomes the norm as opposed to human drivers, our roads will be a lot safer.