Waymo's Safety Report is all about reassuring passengers

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Well-known member
Aug 9, 2016
Waymo’s self-driving Safety Report is all about reassuring passengers
Chris Davies · Oct 12, 2017

Waymo, the Alphabet business working on autonomous cars, has released its first safety report, a recap of 3.5m miles of on-road activity. Intended to reassure potential passengers – and wary regulators – that self-driving vehicles are “safer by design,” the report covers everything from incidents through to backup systems. It also digs into what sort of interactions with a driverless vehicle passengers might expect.
“Fully self-driving vehicles will succeed in their promise and gain public acceptance only if they are safe,” the company writes. “That’s why Waymo has been investing in safety and building the processes that give us the con dence that our self-driving vehicles can serve the public’s need for safer transportation and better mobility.”
Autonomous vehicles need to address four basics, Waymo explains. First, they need to perceive the environment around them to understand where they are; next, they need to spot what else is around them. Third, they have to predict what might happen next in that environment, and finally they have to reach a decision based on all of that information.
As we’ve seen, it’s a complex combination of cameras, radar and other sensors, LIDAR laser rangefinders, and a whole host of onboard computers, mashing that data up with high-resolution maps that’s responsible for doing all that. Waymo cars can see up to 984 feet away in all directions, using computer vision to classify other cars, cyclists, pedestrians, and other road users and potential hazards. There are even microphones that listen out for police and other emergency services sirens.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that Waymo’s real-world testing is only a fraction of the total number of miles its autonomous systems have had to deal with. The company makes heavy use of simulated driving and modeling, putting the software through its paces dealing with virtual challenges to refine the algorithms. That, Waymo says, currently amounts to billions more miles: 2.5bn in 2016 alone.
What that driving won’t do is stray from a pre-defined area. That’s because Waymo is relying on high-definition mapping completed before the car goes roaming out in public, including details down to lane topography and more. Indeed, “passengers cannot select a destination outside of our approved geography, and our software will not create a route that travels outside of a “geo-fenced” area, which has been mapped in detail” Waymo says.
Interestingly, the safety report arrives in the same week that the California DMV announced it planned to significantly loosen one of its more restrictive limitations on autonomous car testing. Until now, companies testing such vehicles on public roads have been required to have a human safety driver behind the wheel. That person was there to take over, should the system fail to handle the situation correctly.
With the new proposed regulations, expected to come into effect in mid-2018, that human backup needn’t be inside the car. Instead the DMV has suggested, it could be a remote person, just as long as they’re fully capable of bringing the driverless vehicle to a safe state in an incident. They must also be able to communicate in both directions with anybody within the car.

Waymo says it has a full operations center which can report a crash and interact with law enforcement and first responders, in addition to “rider specialists” who can communicate with passengers. There’s a redundant cellular connection between operations center and car, with encryption used to secure those conversations. However, the vehicles themselves are self-sufficient when it comes to actually driving: they don’t rely on cloud-processing, which could be affected by network downtime.
In the cabin, there are displays which show what the car is seeing and reacting to, details on the destination and ETA, and a “Pull Over” button. If pressed, that prompts the vehicle to automatically pull over to the nearest safest place to stop. There’s also a mobile app for summoning the vehicle and setting the destination. In-cabin controls have braille legends for vision-impaired riders, and the car can verbalize what it’s doing.
We’re still some way from autonomous cars having free rein on public highways, though several states are pushing ahead with the legislation that would pave the way to that. Still, Waymo’s new safety report addresses another lingering issue: that of public acceptance for driverless vehicles. After all, even if the laws and regulations allow it, you have to lure passengers inside.


Well looks like they are still using the Pacifica so that is encouraging as they must feel it has good safety features ;) Too many questions they still have to work out like how does the self driving vehicle handle emergency vehicles or an accident situation in front, back or to the side of them - what about bridges??? The title is that the goal is to reassure passengers - what about other drivers !!!??
I agree with your point of view. It is important that the passengers feel safe but what about everyone else out there in the public when that driver less car is scooting around. The goal should be to make it perfectly safe at all times. To make the autonomous car a relaxing and trustworthy experience for all not just the passenger
So this article is about the self driving shuttle bus in Vegas that crashed within the hour of being on the road. Reports say that it in fact was human error and not the self driving components

Human blamed after self-driving shuttle bus crashes
CBC News
By , The Associated Press · Nov 9, 2017
The robots won this one.
A driverless shuttle bus was involved in a minor crash with a semi-truck less than two hours after it made its debut on Las Vegas streets Wednesday in front of cameras and celebrities.
The human behind the wheel of the truck was at fault, police said.
Las Vegas police officer Aden Ocampo-Gomez said the semi-truck's driver was cited for illegal backing. No injuries were reported.
"The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that it's (sic) sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident," the city said in a statement. "Unfortunately the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle. Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided."
The oval-shaped shuttle that can transport up to 12 people has an attendant and computer monitor, but no steering wheel and no brake pedals. It uses GPS, electronic curb sensors and other technology to make its way. It was developed by the French company Navya and was tested in January in Las Vegas.
At the unveiling ceremony, officials promoted it as the nation's first self-driving shuttle pilot project geared toward the public.
Before it crashed, dozens of people had lined up to get a free trip on a one kilometre (0.6-mile) loop in downtown Las Vegas. City spokesman Jace Radke said the shuttle took two more loops after the crash.
NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and magic duo Penn and Teller were among the first passengers.
250,000 passengers expected
The transportation company Keolis is operating the shuttle. Its vice-president of mobility solutions, Maurice Bell, said the bus will scoot through Las Vegas at no more than 24 kilometres per hour (15 mph). AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, which is sponsoring the one-year pilot project, expects that 250,000 people will use the shuttle.
Las Vegas resident Stacey Gray and her dog Socrates were among the first to board the bus Wednesday. She said the drive was so smooth that she couldn't even tell she was in a car, but approaching the intersection made her a little nervous.
"A little bit of that looking around and you know wondering if it was going to stop, and 'Oh my gosh, there's a car behind us, kind of little hesitation,"' she said. "But it stopped and it was fine."