Waymo's Rider-Only Experience - The Road To Autonomy

Waymo’s Rider-Only Experience

Sonca Nguyen, Product Manager, Waymo joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy podcast to discuss Waymo’s rider-only experience.

The conversation begins with Sonca comparing and contrasting her first Waymo rider-only ride in Chandler, Arizona in 2019 to her first rider-only experience in San Francisco in 2022. From 2019 to 2022, the Waymo driver has matured and is now capable of handling even more demanding situations. The maturing of the driver was cultivated with the introduction of the 5th-generation Waymo Driver.

The maturing of the Waymo driver really allowed us to expand our Waymo One service.

– Sonca Nguyen

The technical advancements and the maturing of the autonomous driving system has allowed Waymo to expand to downtown Phoenix and the Sky Harbor International Airport. With the resort town of Scottsdale being located 8.4 miles from the Sky Harbor Airport and 11 million tourists visiting Scottsdale each year, Grayson asks Sonca if there are plans to eventually offer a Waymo Sky Harbor to Scottsdale service.

Waymo is fully committed to expanding our service there.

– Sonca Nguyen

The vehicles operating at Sky Harbor will be the Jaguar I-PACEs which have 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space. This space can hold 5 roller carry-on bags and will be available for travelers to store their bags on the journey to their destination, as the Waymo compute stack has gotten significantly smaller and more efficient over the years.

Could Waymo’s airport expansion come to other cities such as San Francisco? It’s a possibility, but nothing is confirmed yet. However today in San Francisco, Waymo is operating a trusted-tester program for members of the public and is operating rider-only for employees.

During this time Waymo has a learned how to improve the product, scale operations and operate a service with passengers. As the service opens up to members of the public, Waymo will continue to gather feedback which will further help to improve the product.

As the service opens to the public in San Francisco, Sonca walks listeners through what the Waymo rider-only experience will be like in San Francisco. One of the interesting things that Waymo has learned from passengers in San Francisco is that they prefer to be picked up in parking lots as opposed to the street.

Wrapping up the conversation, Sonca shares her thoughts on how she sees autonomous driving technology evolving over the next decade.

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Recorded on Friday, July 1, 2022