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May 9, 2023

Keeping riders and other road users safe with Safe Exit features

  • Technology
In car screen showing cyclist approaching warning
In car screen showing cyclist approaching warning

When arriving at your destination and opening the door, how often do you stop to think who might be on the other side? According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, collisions with bicyclists when a vehicle's door opens into moving traffic, or "dooring," is the second most common collision that results in injury or fatality. To help prevent 'dooring' events, Waymo implemented new and more effective methods to help inform riders when other road users are nearby by employing the same sensing technology the Waymo Driver uses to navigate roadways autonomously.

Today, ride-shares operated by human drivers can remind riders exiting a vehicle to be mindful of cyclists. Because Waymo operates fully autonomously — with no human in the driver's seat — we have developed other methods to provide riders with additional cues. While Waymo has always reminded riders to "check their surroundings before exiting the vehicle," by leveraging the same inputs the Waymo Driver uses to navigate the roads fully autonomously -- including its sensor suite and software stack-- we now provide our riders with explicit audio and visual alerts that inform them when a cyclist or other road user is approaching as they exit the car. We work closely with our Trusted Testers and employees who are riders to help shape and test the efficacy of our Safe Exit notifications. For example, our User-Experience team conducted multiple studies with our Trusted Testers and employee riders to help ensure our implemented features achieve our objective of reducing the chance of a dooring collision.

Passenger exiting vehicle and dome showing rider intent

Just as it's important for our riders to know what's happening around them, it's also important that other road users understand what the Waymo Driver is doing. By displaying easy-to-interpret iconography on the lidar on top of our Waymo One cars, visualizing a rider entering or exiting a vehicle, we can better communicate to other road users that we are picking up or dropping off a rider, but more importantly, signaling that a door might open.

We look forward to introducing more features to create an even more comfortable and predictable experience for cyclists and other road users; but we can't do this alone. The future of mobility requires diverse experiences and perspectives. So whether you're keen to actively help us shape autonomous ride-hailing as a Waymo One rider or a professional eager to contribute to a more equitable mobility revolution, we want to hear from you!