Automotive

Waymo's new all-electric robotaxi ditches the steering wheel completely

Waymo's new all-electric robot...
Waymo is looking to have some version of its driverless taxi on US roads "in the years to come"
Waymo is looking to have some version of its driverless taxi on US roads "in the years to come"
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Waymo is looking to have some version of its driverless taxi on US roads "in the years to come"
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Waymo is looking to have some version of its driverless taxi on US roads "in the years to come"
No steering wheel or pedals means extra interior room
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No steering wheel or pedals means extra interior room
A flat floor and wide-opening doors make for easy ingress and egress
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A flat floor and wide-opening doors make for easy ingress and egress
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Alphabet subsidiary Waymo opened up its fully driverless taxi service to the public in Phoenix, Arizona, in October last year, making it the first commercial service in the world to operate without safety backup drivers at the wheel. Now the company has unveiled a vehicle designed from the ground up with autonomous ride-hailing in mind that does away with the steering wheel altogether.

The all-electric vehicle features a B-pillarless minivan design that allows for a completely flat floor with a low step-in height, making it easier for passengers to get in and out via the wide opening provided by the pair of sliding doors on each side. The vehicle also boasts plenty of head and legroom – aided in the front row by the lack of a steering wheel or pedals – and adjustable reclining seats, screens and chargers will let passengers kick back on their journey without feeling any pressure to make small talk with a driver.

No steering wheel or pedals means extra interior room
No steering wheel or pedals means extra interior room

The robotaxi was designed and is being developed in Gothenburg, Sweden, and will be built by Zeekr, the EV brand of Chinese multinational auto manufacturer Geely. Waymo says it will meet US federal vehicle safety standards and join the Waymo One fleet on US roads “in the years to come” – of course, regulators will have a major say on exactly which year that will be so Waymo can’t give a more exact timeline yet. However, in its favor, the company’s vehicles do have a good safety record.

In over a decade, Waymo’s self-driving software has clocked up over 20 million autonomous miles (32 million km) on public roads, which the company points out is more than the average driver would rack up in their lifetime. Since beginning on-road testing, the company’s vehicles have only been involved in a handful of crashes, most of them minor and none of them resulting in fatalities, with Waymo blaming the other driver for the vast majority of those accidents.

Source: Waymo

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6 comments
6 comments
Daishi
It would be interesting to know how many times in 20 million miles one of their safety drivers grabbed or pressed a control that is now absent here. Putting drivers in something like this would quickly tell them how many of those 20 million miles were actually fully autonomous and how many served as the world's most expensive Ouija board. The cars are autonomous except when they aren't. I'm sure in another decade or more when it's real it will be cheaper to buy the tech from one of their Chinese partners.
Gabe Ets-Hokin
1940: "In 20 years, we'll have driverless cars!"
1960: "In 20 years, we'll have driverless cars, this time for real!"
1980: "In 20 years, we'll have driverless cars, and we really mean it this time!"
2000: "In 20 years, we'll have driverless cars, no, really!"
2022: "We have driverless cars, except they have drivers, but in the years to come they'll be driverless!"
2042: "Remember when we said we'd have driverless cars? Wasn't that hilarious?"
Username
Completely driverless pods like this should have the seat facing each other.
Douglas Rogers
I can see a controlled road space like an airport tram, where you could have relatively safe, simple software.
Nelson Hyde Chick
Humanity will continue to swell by billions more while technology takes more and more jobs.
guzmanchinky
I can't wait for this. I feel bad for Uber drivers, but I would much rather be alone in a vehicle. Maybe they can even include a system that filters the air between users. But I can see the headlines now: "Couple arrested for having *** in unmanned Waymo"... :)