Where the next 10 million miles will take us
By: John Krafcik, CEO
Our self-driving vehicles just crossed 10 million miles driven on public roads.
When it comes to driving, experience is the best teacher, and that experience is even more valuable when it’s varied and challenging. These millions of miles were driven in 25 cities across the United States: in sunny California, dusty Arizona, and snowy Michigan, and from the high-speed roads around Phoenix to the dense urban streets of San Francisco.
Our progress on public roads is made possible by our deep investment in simulation. By the end of the month, we’ll cross 7 billion miles driven in our virtual world (that’s 10 million miles every single day). In simulation, we can recreate any encounter we have on the road and make situations even more challenging through “fuzzing.” We can test new skills, refine existing ones, and practice extremely rare encounters, constantly challenging, verifying, and validating our software. We can learn exponentially through this combination of driving on public roads and simulation.
Thanks to nearly 10 years of experience, and keeping safety at the core of everything we do, we’ve been able to put the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road. Safety is baked into how we drive today: we stay out of other driver’s blind spots, give wide berth to pedestrians, and come to a full stop at 4-way stops. In Phoenix, Arizona over 400 early riders use our app and ride in our cars, allowing them to get around town without the stress of driving and with the peace of mind that they’ll arrive safely.
While we’ve made great strides thanks to these 10 million miles, the next 10 million will focus on turning our advanced technology into a service that people will use and love. To best serve our riders and make it possible for more people to benefit from this technology, we need to be safe and also capable, comfortable, and convenient.
We want to help as many people benefit from this technology as possible by operating in more places. Today, our vehicles are fully self-driving, around the clock, in a territory within the Metro Phoenix area. Now we’re working to master even more driving capabilities so our vehicles can drive even more places. Our engineers and scientists are applying advanced artificial intelligence and new in-house designed sensing systems to help us navigate complex weather conditions like heavy rain and snow, which are difficult even for human drivers.
Our driving should feel natural to our riders and others on the road. Today, our cars are programmed to be cautious and courteous above all, because that’s the safest thing to do. We’re working on striking the balance between this and being assertive as we master maneuvers that are tough for everyone on the road. For example, merging lanes in fast-moving traffic requires a driver to be both assertive enough to complete the maneuver without causing others to brake and smooth enough to feel pleasant to our passengers.
Self-driving technology is most useful if it gets you where you want to go, as quickly as possible. Today, our cars are designed to take the safest route, even if that means adding a few minutes to your trip. They won’t block your neighbor’s driveway and will choose the safest place to pull over, even if it means having to walk a few extra steps to a destination. We value our riders’ time, and with even more experience and feedback from people in our cars, we’re working on ways to make our routes, pick-ups, and drop-offs even more efficient. (That’s especially important in the Phoenix heat and suburbs with large parking lots!)
Over the next 10 million miles, our journey will take even more riders to even more places, in cars that are safe, in addition to being more capable, comfortable, and convenient. Building the world’s most experienced driver is a mission we’ll pursue for millions of miles to come, from 10 to 100 million and beyond. We hope you’ll come along for the ride!