Of all the areas of personal mobility being turned on their head right now, ride hailing is the one seeing the most disruption, where just a few years ago if you needed a ride to your favorite coffee shop, you'd raise your arm or your voice to summon a cab, now you just raise your phone, tap a few buttons in an app and then wait a few minutes for a car and magically appear.
And that's pretty much exactly how Waymo one walks except there's one major difference that separates it from the Ubers and the Lyfts of the world.
Waymos cars drive themselves.
Yes, this is a Chrysler Hybrid Pacifica mini van, one of the most advance mini vans in the road.
But it needs some extensive modification to be able to work within Waymo's system, most notably that kind of funny looking sensor pod up on the roof.
In there you have LIDAR scanning all around us.
Radar sensors, and imaging as well up there and also on all four corners of the vehicle enabling this car to see the world around it.
That all talks to some very advanced computing hardware that's built in the car as well, running what is the key of the whole thing, and that's the software.
The WIMO Driver lives in that software and that's what's making all the decisions, that's what makes this car safe to be in.
But interestingly, because the driver lives in software, and only in software, Can be a little bit disconcerting for the passenger sitting here in the back seats.
That's why these displays are here.
These displays give you a simplified look at all the sensory data that's being pulled in from the car, highlighting things like pedestrians or other cars, even traffic lights.
So at a glance, I can tell what the car can see.
It'll even make things flash.
So if, for example, the car is waiting for a pedestrian to cross the road, That pedestrian will start to flash.
And that way I'll know the car's waiting for that person to get out of the way before we move on.
Now there's one very important caveat I need to make.
And while this is a self driving car, and while it is indeed driving itself, there is a human operator sitting there in the driver's seat, Waylon chose to put a person there not because the car necessarily needs it, although they can take over, they're there basically to make the people in the back seat feel a little more comfortable.
They got some feedback from the early riders that people were a little bit more More nervous if the operator was sitting in the passenger seat as they were for much of the testing indeed.
So we will put the driver back into the driver's seat to make everyone feel a little bit better about this transition from human driven cars to self driven ones.
So we've been in the car for a few minutes now and.
It's actually pretty nice.
It's relatively relaxing.
I like that I can see exactly what the car can see.
We've done some some what complicated things.
We've made a couple right turns, we've waited for traffic lights.
We've even just merged into traffic.
The car did pretty well.
It is driving relatively conservatively.
But then this is a relatively new driver so you'd expect it to drive conservatively.
But over all, it's done nothing that's given me any reason for concern.
At least not yet.
But every pedestrian we've seen, every other car we've seen, every botential threat or risk or anything that I needed to car to know about I felt confident because I could see it right here on the screen.
Now we've got some pedestrians who are crossing the road.
And indeed we could make a right turn here but we're waiting for them to go by.
You can actually see them here on the LIDAR scanner And they've got little circles beneath them, the [UNKNOWN] has identified them.
Which is pretty nice, and it made them flash, that brought to my attention the idea that the car is sitting here and waiting for them to go before we move across the road.
And even as they're standing and waiting to cross the road again, even as they're walking down the sidewalk, the car has still identified them.
But once the car decides that they're not gonna cross the road They just fade away.
As I mentioned before, this is a Chrysler Pacifica and it's a pretty comfortable place to be.
There's a lot of room back here.
There's even a child safety seat in every single van which is great for parents.
But if that's not quite your style, Waymo has made partnerships with Jaguar and they'll be bringing the I-PACE to market as well.
Meaning in the future, when you launch the Waymo One app You'll be able to choose if you want a Pacifica and maybe have some friends come with you, or if you wanna maybe go out somewhere nice and arrive in the Jaguar.
I can also interact with the car if I want to.
If for any reason, I'm not feeling well, I can have the car pull over.
I can push the Support button here if I need to make a call and get some more support, and I can even look at different information here.
I can look at the route, as well, showing me where we are and how far we've got to go there.
We've got four minutes left before I can finally go get my coffee.
All right we are approaching our stop.
We're about to make a left hand turn across traffic.
This is a pretty risky thing.
We don't have a traffic light or a stop sign or anything to protect us.
And we've got a car coming.
And the car just showed me that it is waiting for those cars to pass before it pulls over, so it's showing oncoming traffic and it's gonna wait for a proper safe gap Ford let's just go forward.
There's a lot of traffic today apparently.
Okay, we got a gap.
Car's creeping forward.
A little hesitation, but here we go.
All right, now we're entering into a shopping plaza and things are not easy from here, because the car needs to know exactly where to drop me off.
Leaving me at the entrance to the parking lot wouldn't be any good.
I wanna be as close to that coffee shop as I can possibly be.
So in the app I was able to specify exactly where I wanted to be dropped off.
And with any luck the car's gonna take us right there.
And there we go, successfully delivered.
And it's time for me to get a cuppa.
As interesting is all the censors in the software are what's really interesting is the pricing, right now Waymo one uses will pay roughly the same as they might using Uber or lift.
Waymo's working on partnership with hotels an restaurants things that might mean that this ride-hailing service of the future could actually be free to use.
And the kicker is, this is no longer a service of the future, this service is live today.
And while only some early access riders will have access today, that will be expanding through the new year, which means that Phoenix Right now, is the future.