Waymo’s application for a taxi service license in Phoenix, Arizona, has been granted almost immediately, in line with the pro-autonomous driving policies of state governor Doug Ducey and thus reduce traffic accidents and in improve mobility for the elderly and disabled. The company plans to use the license to launch a stand-alone taxi service this year competing directly with companies such as Uber or Lyft, and with the advantage that it will not have to pay drivers.
Waymo plans a speedy roll out in 24 US cities with a wide variety of weather conditions and where it is currently carrying out road tests. Perhaps the ultimate in road testing is being carried out by Russian tech giant Yandex on the streets of Moscow, which have been hit by spectacularly heavy snowfalls and that are also prone to heavy traffic and undisciplined pedestrians. So far, Yandex’s self-driving vehicles have adapted easily the Russia capital.
Soon, autonomous driving will be the transportation option of choice, particularly when weather conditions are bad. We humans cannot compete with the battery of multi-directional, sensors fitted to an autonomous vehicle: we can’t see 360º, our reflections are slow, and neither can we see through objects. Autonomous driving is already a reality, it’s here, and it’s going to be hugely disruptive, ushering much positive change: moving around our cities will be easier and cheaper. Longer trips will be safer, and what’s more, a whole new world of mobility will open up to the disabled and elderly.
What’s more, all this is going to happen within the next couple of years, depending on where you live and the open-mindedness of your politicians. It is time for our leaders to follow the governor of the state of Arizona to speed up an inevitable process. The future is staring us in the face and we cannot ignore it any longer. Does your city have a strategic plan to facilitate autonomous driving? Or does your City Hall still think of it in terms of science fiction?
How long are we going to put up with the outdated protests of the naysayers insisting that we’re not ready for autonomous vehicles?
(En español, aquí)