Waymo Is Testing the Jaguar I-Pace With San Francisco Residents
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Well-known in the self-driving car industry, Waymo is an Alphabet-owned company that produces an autonomous vehicle technology known as Waymo Driver. Their tech has been used since 2017 for robotaxi services in the Phoenix, AZ area, and now it will be gracing the streets of San Francisco, as well.
Curious riders now have the opportunity to go for a spin in Waymo Driver-equipped electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs in both cities, with the rollout of the Waymo One Trusted Tester program.
Let’s take a closer look at the details of the program, and find out how you can catch an automated ride.
Waymo’s autonomous technology is showcased in the Jaguar I-Pace, which offers taxi rides in San Francisco.
How is Waymo making the Jaguar I-Pace “autonomous?”
According to Autoweek, the Waymo Driver-equipped I-Pace is built with an array of sensors mounted at various locations on the vehicle. Among them are Lidar (“light detection and ranging”) sensors, which employ lasers to perceive and judge vehicle surroundings with a very high degree of accuracy.
Waymo has been honing its software’s driver automation skills in the Bay Area for more than a decade, but this latest generation of Waymo Driver is rated SAE Level Four.
This equates to “high automation,” meaning that the “system controls all aspects of the driving tasks, including when a driver doesn’t respond appropriately to requests to intervene,” according to Autoweek.
Level Five, “full automation” is the highest rating, and would mean that no human intervention would be needed for operation. No vehicles with ratings above Level Two (“partial automation”) are sold in the U.S., according to J.D. Power.
Given Waymo Driver’s current rating, the Jaguar SUVs will operate with a safety driver on board.
What is the Trusted Tester program?
The Trusted Tester program launched in San Francisco in August, and it’s a win-win situation for everyone. It enables folks to take a taxi ride in a highly advanced autonomous vehicle and give feedback on their experiences. This feedback helps to shape Waymo’s improvements to their evolving technology.
This isn’t Waymo’s first time offering the service in a major city. Since 2017, they have operated thousands of rides in Phoenix, AZ. In 2020, Reuters reported that Waymo would expand the city’s operation area from 50 to 100 square miles, and use Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
How can you catch a Waymo Jaguar I-Pace taxi?
To book a ride, all you need to do is download the Waymo One app and make an account. The app will connect you to the current fleet of I-Pace taxis, which are cleared to operate only in specific geofenced areas of the city at the moment.
According to MarketWatch, the lucky participants who get to ride in one of the Jaguars will do so for free, but they won’t be permitted to bring guests and they must agree to a nondisclosure agreement.
Looking to the future, it is difficult to estimate exactly what the fares and operational logistics of autonomous taxis will look like, but programs like Waymo’s will help to gather important data that could make driverless taxis feasible on a broad scale. As autonomous vehicle technologies evolve to meet stricter regulations for passenger and road safety, hopefully we will one day see fully autonomous Waymo taxis in major cities across the country.