What’s It Like To Ride In A Driverless Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid


TechCrunch goes for a ride in a fully autonomous Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid with absolutely no driver, and it’s pretty amazing.

We apologize in advance for the robot voice in the video. It’s almost comical if you can tolerate it.

Of course, this can’t yet happen on real public roads with the general public. Even though Waymo’s vehicles are at Level 4 autonomy, there still has to be a person in the driver’s seat just in case something goes awry. However, Waymo has its own closed testing area complete with other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, intersections, and even emergency vehicles. The company is also testing on public roads in Chandler, Arizona, without a driver. However, current passengers are all Waymo employees.

The next step, which isn’t far off (in the next few months per CEO John Krafcik), will be the industry’s first driverless ride hailing service. Any yes, it will transport the general public.

Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Journalist Darrell Etherington sat in the second row of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan and let the car be in control. He said it tackled a pretty long route with no issues. Etherington’s not a stranger to self-driving vehicle demos but this was different. He shares:

“I’ve done a lot of self-driving vehicle demos, including in Waymo’s own previous-generation Lexus test vehicles, so I wasn’t apprehensive about being ferried around in Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica minivan to begin with. But the experience still took me by surprise, in terms of just how freeing it was once it became apparent that the car was handling s*** all on its own, and would continue to do so safely regardless of what else was going on around it.”

He says that even though the test track is not a truly real-world scenario, and can be tailored by Waymo to be somewhat consistent, it’s still quite impressive. The track includes stop lights and a roundabout, people crossing into traffic, etc. He just happened to have a squirrel dart out in front of the Pacifica Hybrid during his test drive (this was not an animatronic squirrel, nor was it anything put in place by Waymo). The Pacifica noticed it and slowed in an attempt to avoid it if needed.

While you’re partaking in Waymo’s Pacifica Hybrid test drive, you get to watch displays that show you what the vehicle’s sensors are “seeing”, as shown in the video below. This one is also taking place on public roads:

Needless to say, Etherington was honestly impressed with the experience. He was surprised by how comfortable the “driver” made him feel. He concluded:

“I also noticed that the Pacifica drove in a manner which itself made me feel more comfortable as a rider, essentially by making it familiar. It edged into intersections cautiously, moved forward slowly when it had the right of way but its path was obstructed by a pedestrian crossing the street and did a number of other things that made its driving feel more “human” than you might expect from an exacting computer system.”

Check out another video of the Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid below:

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Source: TechCrunch, 2

Categories: Chrysler

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10 Comments on "What’s It Like To Ride In A Driverless Waymo Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid"

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“Of course, this can’t yet happen on real public roads”

What on earth are you talking about??? It IS happening on real public roads, in Chandler, AZ. You even say that later in the same paragraph!

It’s true the riders in AZ are Waymo employees right now (maybe – Waymo has a history of keeping these things quiet until weeks/months/years after the fact). But what does that matter to the other cars, pedestrians and bicyclists on the road. Do they care who is in the back seat of the driverless van that passes them? Is having a journalist in the back seat really the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for?

After all the coverage we’ve seen on Tesla Autopilot I don’t understand why you ignore the breakthrough of Waymo cars driving on “real public roads” with an empty driver’s seat.

Nonsense, everyone knows Tesla is the leader in Full Self Driving.

And the earth is flat too right!

They are when it comes to production cars with hidden integrated sensors and cameras not modified production cars with giant protruding instrument clusters. Waymo is the real deal and these things can really drive autonomously. However, they are currently doing this with a more brute force technique. They will eventually figure out how to bring costs down more and shrink the instruments to where they will be integrated more into the design. Tesla is a leader in autonomous driving in a different way. They are including all of their hardware in all of their production cars at no cost to buyers whether they pay for the autonomous functions or not. They are attempting to achieve what Waymo is doing through improvements and breakthroughs through software that can learn to use the cameras and sonar more effectively. This can all go on behind the scenes on it’s own schedule. If they succeed great. If they don’t customers will still have a vastly superior suite of autonomous driving functions the other automakers don’t have yet. To put it another way Waymo has level 4 autonomous driving cars that no one could afford to own as a production car while Tesla has the… Read more »

Do you really care if your robotaxi has “hidden sensors”?

A sleek look is important for an expensive performance sedan, so Tesla is taking the right approach for their market. Waymo and GM/Cruise are in a different market, though.

Of course, there’s no guarantee the Waymo/Cruise market will amount to much. I think it’ll be huge, and so do a lot of others, but it’s all guesswork at this point. There is no doubt about Tesla’s market size.

You guys criticized an article AND made fun of Tesla in the same thread. They will disappear you.

“became apparent that the car was handling s*** all on its own”

LOL, is that a technical phrase?

Pretty funny, yea. Caught me by surprise.

Honestly, I can’t wait until I can get into the back seat of my car and say “Waymo(or Elon or whoever), take me to work. Oh and stop at Dunkin Donuts…large hot coffee, light with cream, two Equals”. That would be wonderful!!!

Drinkers may like this to get home.