In recent years, self-driving cars have become more and more prevalent on the road. One of the most exciting applications of this technology is in the form of taxis and other shuttle services. Among the industry leaders in this particular area is Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google.
Waymo’s fleet of self-driving taxis, known as Waymo One, is currently available in Phoenix and San Francisco. Even with the relatively low number of accidents involving Waymo’s self-driving vehicles, it’s always a possibility. Thus, it’s important to understand how these vehicles work and what you can do if you’ve been involved in an accident with one.
An Overview of Waymo’s Self-Driving Taxis
Officially launched in late 2018, Waymo One has been operating in select areas of Arizona. As of late 2022, these vehicles are also available in San Francisco and select areas of Los Angeles.
To use these vehicles, customers download the Waymo app and request a ride. The app shows the estimated arrival time of the vehicle and the fare for the trip. Once the vehicle arrives, passengers enter the car and the trip begins. While the taxis are designed to be autonomous, there is usually a safety driver in the car at all times who is trained to take over control of the vehicle in case of an emergency.
As a company, Waymo has been testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads since 2009 and has accumulated millions of miles of driving experience. The company has also been developing its technology for a variety of use cases beyond ride-hailing, including logistics and delivery.
With a business plan in place, Waymo’s taxis also utilize various technologies throughout their design that allow for smooth transportation for customers. Here’s a brief overview of how Waymo One works:
- Perception – Waymo One vehicles use a combination of lidar, radar, and cameras to build a 360-degree view of their surroundings. This allows them to detect objects such as other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, as well as road markings and traffic signs.
- Planning – Using data from its perception system, the Waymo One vehicle plans its route and trajectory. This includes deciding which lane to drive in, when to turn, and how fast to go. The vehicle’s planning system takes into account a variety of factors, such as traffic flow, road conditions, and local driving rules.
- Control – Once the vehicle has planned its route, it uses its control system to execute the driving maneuvers. This includes accelerating, braking, and steering. The control system is designed to be smooth and predictable, providing passengers with a comfortable ride.
- Safety driver – While Waymo One vehicles are capable of fully autonomous operation, there is always a safety driver in the car who is trained to take control of the vehicle in case of an emergency. The safety driver is responsible for monitoring the vehicle’s performance and ensuring that the ride is safe and comfortable for passengers.
Importantly, the technology behind Waymo One is constantly evolving, and the company is working to improve its performance and expand its availability to more locations in the future. At the same time, like any vehicle, there is always the threat of an accident when out on the road.
How Do Waymo Self-Driving Taxi Accidents Happen?
While Waymo’s self-driving taxis are designed to be autonomous, and as such have numerous safety features that you won’t find in other vehicles, accidents still happen. Still, there are a number of factors that are unique to accidents involving Waymo’s self-driving vehicles. These can include:
- Human error – While Waymo vehicles are designed to operate autonomously, there is still a safety driver in the vehicle who is responsible for monitoring the vehicle’s performance and taking control if necessary. If the safety driver is distracted, fatigued, or otherwise unable to respond quickly to a potential hazard, an accident could occur.
- Software or hardware malfunction – Like any technology, the sensors, cameras, and other components that make up the Waymo vehicle can malfunction or fail. If there is a problem with the vehicle’s software or hardware that affects its ability to perceive its surroundings or execute driving maneuvers, an accident could occur.
- Road conditions – Autonomous vehicles rely on accurate and up-to-date mapping data to navigate roads and traffic. If there is a problem with the mapping data, such as an inaccurate or missing road sign, the vehicle could make a mistake that leads to an accident.
- Other drivers – While Waymo vehicles are designed to follow traffic laws and drive defensively, they cannot control the actions of other drivers on the road. If another driver acts unpredictably or recklessly, it could cause an accident involving a Waymo vehicle.
It’s worth noting that accidents involving Waymo self-driving taxis are relatively rare, and the company is constantly working to improve its technology and safety features. Not only that but the company is invested heavily in developing and testing safety protocols that have also contributed to the relatively low rate of accidents. However, as with any new technology, there may be unforeseen challenges and setbacks. Still, being involved in an accident with one of these vehicles can be a frustrating experience. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced team of lawyers that can help you.
What Can Be Done After a Waymo Self-Driving Taxi Accident?
Any car accident is frustrating and can lead to extensive injuries for you or a loved one. But when the accident involves a Waymo self-driving taxi, you have the option of filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
To learn more about what you can do after one of these accidents, visit my page on Waymo self-driving accidents.