Editor’s Note: Last year, we opened up our fully autonomous ride-hailing service to all of our Waymo One riders, and Xavier is one of the people who relies on this service to get where he needs to go. He shared this video with us, and we gave him a call to learn more about how he likes the service and what it’s like to ride with Waymo, solo.
I’m Xavier, and I live in Chandler, Arizona. I’ve been riding with Waymo for around a year now and first heard about Waymo when I saw them driving around my neighborhood. I started wondering what they were and finally looked it up and saw on the website that you could sign up to ride in them.
I’d heard about autonomous cars before on a few tech podcasts I listen to, but I didn’t know the technology was fully there yet or that there was a possibility of riding in one until I signed up. It took about a week to get accepted, and I’ve been riding since.
What do you normally use the service for?
I don’t own a car myself, so my primary mode of transportation is Waymo, other ride-hailing services, or the bus.
I mainly use Waymo to get to and from work. I’m a restaurant manager at Wendy’s and don’t live too far away; it’s a short 10 minute ride usually. I also use it to visit my mother every once in a while.
Waymo generally is a nice ride, and you get a very consistent experience. The cars are always super clean and it feels futuristic, almost like you have a robot butler. You get in, press the button, and you’re on your way.
I compare it a lot to other ride-hailing services that aren’t automated. With those, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Sometimes the driver is having an off day, may speed, or not obey the traffic laws.
With Waymo, it picks the same route, goes the same speed, and feels more secure. I also like the fact that you get to specifically choose where it’s going to pick you up and drop you off.
Have your transportation habits changed at all through COVID-19?
I still feel comfortable using the service. I feel as comfortable as I do going to work, which I still have to get to somehow!
You’ve had the opportunity to ride a lot in our 100% fully autonomous cars with no human driver. Can you talk about what that’s like? Any major differences or similarities from the experience you’ve previously had with vehicle operators?
Every fully autonomous ride has been pleasant. For me personally, anytime I get in a car with a driver, Waymo or otherwise, I usually don’t play my music too loud or fully relax since I’m trying to consider the other person. But when I’m by myself, I’m more likely to change the temperature or adjust my seat and feel more at ease watching YouTube videos or listening to a podcast on my phone.
I also feel more comfortable changing the destination during the trip, like if I’m heading home from work and remember I need to stop by the store on the way home. It doesn’t feel like I’m inconveniencing anyone in fully autonomous rides.
That’s awesome to hear. Any feedback you have on the overall experience?
The only flaw I’ve noticed, but it’s not actually a flaw, is that sometimes Waymo is overly cautious. I can’t complain about that because it’s a good thing it’s cautious. Sometimes it will make decisions on the road, like routing, that don’t make sense to me all the time, but again, I understand it’s just being cautious.
In my head, all of these things are going to improve or already are.
What do you think the potential is for fully autonomous technology, both in times like these and in the future more broadly?
For me, I don’t have any doubt that autonomous cars are the way to go for the future, and if the world is just, it’s going to replace people driving cars. If it’s not necessary for humans to drive, why would we if it’s safer for computers to drive?
And, it’s going to have a good impact on the environment because if not everyone owns a car there’s going to be less cars out there because we’d all be sharing them.
Anything else you want to share about your experience?
I definitely recommend that people try it! It’s really fun and you feel like you’re part of the future.