Why I Ride with Waymo: Shawn

Editor’s Note: In today’s “Why I Ride with Waymo” post we chat with Shawn, one of the first Waymo One riders, about his experience and why he’s excited to see more autonomous vehicles on the road.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Shawn and I live in Chandler, Arizona. In addition to riding with Waymo, I’m also an avid cyclist and car enthusiast.

What was your first ride like?

I viewed my first ride as a privilege. Not many people have had the opportunity to ride in an autonomous vehicle, so I was truly excited for the experience. I can’t say the excitement has worn off yet! I’m always fascinated to see this technology at work.

What do you primarily use Waymo One for?

My wife and I use Waymo One for weekly grocery trips, and rides from our home to downtown Chandler. We’re most likely to call Waymo when we’re headed somewhere with limited parking or when we want a designated driver.

What is something you like about Waymo One?

It’s fascinating to watch the screen and see the vehicle’s field of vision. Since it can see objects in every direction simultaneously, there have been times it has noticed things before I have. This, combined with how the tech predicts multiple outcomes simultaneously makes me feel very safe riding with Waymo One.

Have you brought any friends or family along?

I’ve brought a friend along who noted Waymo is cautious, but surprisingly comfortable. We had a normal conversation during the ride and practically forgot we were being driven by artificial intelligence!

Waymo’s driver, like human drivers, has a bit of a personality. What have you noticed?

I’ve certainly noticed that the vehicles are courteous and provide quite a bit of room to other vehicles and pedestrians. They’re also consistent. I know that when they make a right hand turn onto the road near our house, they always follow the same behavior and make the same lane selection.

What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you while riding with Waymo?

The most surprising maneuver I experienced was when we were the first car stopped at an intersection, but I knew we needed to make a lane change. When the light turned green, the vehicle was surprisingly quick to accelerate and seize an opportunity to get ahead of other cars for the upcoming turn.

Do you give feedback after your rides?

Yes, always. I think that it’s important to contribute to help continuously improve the technology, no matter how big or small the comment is. I also try to give kudos. Recently a vehicle handled a flashing yellow flawlessly, so I was sure to leave a note. I also try to leave small comments like “Happy New Year!” for those who are working behind the scenes. It’s actually been one of my favorite parts about riding with Waymo.

What do you think the potential is for self-driving cars?

While there are still challenges ahead, I’m personally excited to have autonomous vehicles be an even bigger part of my life. Who doesn’t want to get driven home after a long day, letting their car deal with traffic for them? I also hope down the line that autonomous ride sharing could allow us to transition from a two vehicle to a one vehicle household. Few people realize the financial impact of personal car ownership. With the average cost of a new vehicle continuing to rise, I feel like we could be close to that break-even point.

On a broader scale, I believe that autonomous vehicles have the potential to benefit society. While the implementation of autonomous vehicles will be gradual, over time, they can offer solutions to numerous issues, including traffic fatalities, worsening traffic congestion, carbon emissions, and the ever-increasing cost of personal vehicle ownership.

Anything else you want to share about your experience with Waymo One?

I not only ride with Waymo One, but I ride alongside Waymo One vehicles as a cyclist. I feel safe around the vehicles and my interactions continue to be courteous and without issue. Sometimes I wish that I could say the same for other motorists.