Editor’s note: David, a Downtown Phoenix rider, tried out a “90 days of Waymo” test, where he was seeing if he could use Waymo One for trips he would usually use his personal car for. It went pretty well, and he’s enjoying the trusted space Waymo One provides for him to decompress after work and all the time he’s saved not driving (1,902 minutes to be exact). Check out our conversation and the video he shared with us to hear more about his Waymo experiment.
David - thanks so much for being a Waymo One rider! Tell us more about why you started using our service in Downtown Phoenix and what exactly you use it for.
I heard about developments in autonomous vehicle technology years ago, and I have basic knowledge of machine learning and sensor technology. Many people I know were very skeptical of the idea and insisted that it was impossible for an autonomous vehicle to ever coexist on the roads with human drivers. My response was that it would indeed be possible and that I'd get in one as soon as it was available to me. I did exactly that, and it worked so well that instead of making one trip to prove a point, I decided to replace some of my weekly driving trips with Waymo.
I most often use it to travel to and from a local ice rink where I’m a coach for a beginner ice hockey program. It gives me a chance to decompress after my day job before getting into the high-intensity environment of hockey practice. I'm usually taking Waymo 3 times a week for that and have also used it for trips to restaurants, stores, and the library.
In previous conversations, you shared that you're doing a "90 day" test period with Waymo One. How’s that going so far?
It's been going great, and I'm definitely planning to continue to include Waymo in my transportation options after the "90 Days of Waymo" is complete. It's showed me that with future scaling, I could someday use Waymo to replace my car all together.
Where are you now in the 90 day period?
My first Waymo ride was December 18th, so I'm actually through the 90 days, but it isn't the end of me using Waymo. I'm definitely going to continue using it for afternoon/evening trips to the rink and for trips to my downtown clients. Those are drives that I don't like making anyway, and the Waymo experience for those trips has been very positive.
In that video you captured, the Waymo Driver navigates an emergency vehicle with ease. Can you think of any other examples of where the Waymo Driver has handled a potentially tricky situation well?
Just a few weeks ago, I took my first rider-only trip in moderate rain, which was very impressive! I've been in the car a couple of times before in the rain with a specialist on board, but this was my first fully autonomous trip.
The other situation that comes to mind was when the car encountered an incident where a motorcycle had crashed in the left lane and a car was stopped with its hazard lights on in the right lane. Another car was stopped a short distance ahead in the two-way left lane, also with its hazard lights on. To be honest, I thought this was going to be the one where the Waymo Driver was finally going to get stuck. But it handled it perfectly, navigating around all of the obstacles and easily continuing on its way.
Handling harsher weather conditions was one of the main areas we improved with our most recent software release, so that’s great to hear it’s being noticed! What are some other areas we can continue to improve on with Waymo One?
Adding pickups and dropoffs in more parking lots and overall service area expansion would be the two biggest improvements that I'd look forward to right now. There are a few places I go (most notably my office) where Waymo can't go into the parking lot, which makes that trip more inconvenient. There are also some places I'd like to go that aren't in the service area yet.
Editor’s note: A few weeks after our conversation, David followed up to let us know that Waymo now does pickup and dropoff right at the front door of the building where he works, which he says “tips the scales in favor of using Waymo to get to the office” and means that almost every trip he’d take with Waymo is now door-to-door service.
In one word, how would you describe Waymo One?
Narrowing it down to just one word is impossible! Easy, safe, comfortable, practical, amazing.
We tend to agree. 😊 Any final thoughts on Waymo or autonomous driving technology as a whole?
The technology is already so much better than I expected it would be, and it's only getting better. I had originally thought of it for convenience, but the other day I realized something else that's even more important. When I was 3 years old, my father was struck and killed by a car while he was riding his bicycle to work. This was over 40 years ago, so the circumstances were never entirely clear, and it was ruled to simply be a tragic accident. But it occurred to me that based on everything I've seen, the Waymo Driver probably would have avoided that type of accident. So beyond just being a convenient alternative to driving, I've realized that autonomous technology could also help to prevent that type of tragedy in the future.
Thanks so much for sharing that story with us, David, and for being a part of this journey to improve road safety and reduce the number of incidents like that on our roads.