This Student has Taken over 60 Driverless Waymo Rides


One young Arizonan has leapt at the chance to document the real-world performance of Waymo’s driverless taxis.

Joel Johnson is an Arizona State University student who is taking a break from college during the pandemic. He lives near Waymo’s service territory and has been using some of his free time to put Waymo’s driverless taxis through their paces. He says he has taken more than 60 driverless rides in the two months since Waymo opened driverless service up to the public. He has posted more than a dozen videos.

The most striking thing about these videos is how boring they are. In nearly five hours of driving, I didn’t see Waymo’s vehicles make a single significant mistake. That contrasts with the “full self-driving” software Tesla released in beta back in October. I watched three hours of videos of customers testing out Tesla’s technology. Drivers intervened more than a dozen times—including two cases where a crash seemed imminent.

Johnson’s experience hasn’t been like that at all. “It’s been rock solid,” he told Ars in a phone interview.

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