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July 1, 2021

Why I Ride with Waymo: Sophia

  • , waymo one

Editor’s note: We first heard from Sophia on social media, where she’s been sharing fun videos of her Waymo One rides. We reached out to learn more about what intrigued her about Waymo in the first place and how autonomous driving technology has become a part of her everyday life (and sparked a new passion!).

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Sophia, and I live with my husband and 3 children in Tempe, Arizona. I work as a campus store manager at Arizona State University and in the entrepreneurship community as a venture mentor. I am passionate about increasing access to resources in underserved communities and look for ways to leverage my knowledge, network, and abilities to serve as a bridge.

What do you primarily use Waymo One for?

Shopping trips to the grocery store or the mall, and before COVID, restaurants. Since we only had one car and it wasn't reliable, we integrated Waymo into our lives.

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

We brought a friend along for a ride, and he felt like we were in the belly of a robot. We've also used the car seat for our youngest child, and she thought the ride was fun and comfortable. Our older kids love riding in the Waymo vehicles.

What is something you like about Waymo One? What’s one thing you would change?

Being able to relax and not worry about having a stressful commute; not having to question the driver's decision making abilities because the Waymo Driver follows the traffic rules and doesn't have emotions. It would be great if we could open the trunk of the car and use the cargo space at the back so Costco trips don't have to be limited to what can fit around the leg room of the back seats. Those packs of water bottles take up a lot of space.

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

The Waymo Driver definitely has a personality. You can feel it when it is pacing itself for turns and timing when to switch lanes. It especially sometimes gets assertive in busy parking lots, which I am thankful for.

What would you say to people who might be hesitant to get in a car with no human driver?

I would advise them to ask questions and to take their first trip with an experienced rider.

What has been the biggest surprise for you about our autonomous driving technology? And has your opinion evolved from before you started riding with us?

My biggest surprise has been how much of an advocate I've become for this technology as someone who isn't a tech nerd. At first, I just saw it as an alternative to other ride-hailing services, but now I'm signed up for newsletters to learn more about lidar and SAE automation levels. I see the future potential of this technology, not just with driving but with other machinery such as warehouse equipment (forklifts), disability equipment (motorized wheelchairs), and crazy ideas like a helmet that blind people could wear that helps them walk around. I just made that up, but my point is that this technology can make the roads safer and increase accessibility, which helps us be more connected and inclusive as a society.

Anything else you want to share about your experience with Waymo One?

It feels good not having to look for or pay for parking, getting in a cooled car, and knowing that I am doing my part as a rider to help make the roads safer by using the world's most experienced driver.