On October 9, 2020 it became known that Waymo is launching the cab service promised two years earlier – completely unmanned and open to the public. Initially, the cab service without drivers will operate in Arizona.
Waymo’s decision to offer the public a ride without a driver indicates that the company has no doubts about the safety of the new mode of transportation. Now the only question is how quickly the company will be able to expand its services nationally and, ultimately, globally.
Eliminating the risks associated with the safety of passengers travelling in unmanned vehicles is an important step towards increasing the profitability of Waymo services. However, the company is not going to give up on remote supervisors.
These employees never drive vehicles directly, but they are responsible for processing high-level instructions to help vehicles get out of difficult situations. For example, if a Waymo vehicle encounters a road closure on its way, for example due to construction work, it will stop and request additional route selection information from the operator.
Waymo operators are trained to monitor several vehicles at the same time, but over the next months the company intends to reduce the amount of remote monitoring required for each vehicle so that Waymo can reduce its support costs over time.
Prior to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the company provided a total of 1,000 to 2,000 trips per week, 5 to 10 percent of which were completely driverless. Waymo said it expects to return to approximately 100 driverless trips per week by the end of 2020 and then continue to increase.