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Arizona Locals Have Expressed Frustration with Waymo's Autonomous Cars

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【Summary】Waymo has been testing autonomous vehicles in Arizona for quite some time, but locals in the state haven’t been thrilled with sharing the road with the brand’s self-driving machines.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 08, 2018 5:15 PM PT
Arizona Locals Have Expressed Frustration with Waymo's Autonomous Cars
author: Vineeth Joel Patel   

Waymo is one of the clear frontrunners in the race to get autonomous vehicles into the hands of consumers. The company has covered a total of 8 million miles with its self-driving cars, making it a leader in the segment, but also something of an annoyance to locals. 


When the time came for Waymo to choose a spot to test its autonomous cars, it headed straight down to Arizona. The state's vast roads, sweltering heat, and relaxed outlook on driverless vehicles made it the perfect place for testing. Unfortunately, locals don't feel the same way. 


Waymo's Autonomous Cars Have Trouble With Intersections


In a report, CNBC claims that Waymo's autonomous vehicles have become a nuisance to the locals of Chandler, Ariz. Approximately 12 locals who work near Waymo's autonomous office told The Information that the white Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans with the massive LiDAR units at the top and blue and green Waymo badges along the sides are hated in the community.


One of the more prominent issues that locals are having with the autonomous vehicles is how they handle intersections. According to one local, "she almost hit one of the company's minivans because it suddenly stopped while trying to make a right turn," reports CNBC. The situation is so bad that another local claimed that he chose to illegally drive around them. 


Waymo's cars are operating completely autonomously in Arizona, but CNBC, citing unnamed sources that told The Information, claims that the company's safety drivers had to take control of the vehicles on a regular basis. That's not really a good thing, as it means that the autonomous cars are having a hard time learning how to operate in the real world. It also reveals that Waymo, which is one of the leaders in the segment, is struggling to make self-driving technology that's perfect. 


A Waymo spokesperson stated that its autonomous vehicles that are testing in Arizona are "continually learning." A more plausible reason for the autonomous vehicles operating in an overly safe manner is that Waymo claims "safety remains its highest priority." Ever since Uber's incident involving a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., everyone's on high alert.  


Is There A Different Side?


Interestingly, The Drive looked into the issue and found a local CBS investigative reporter that disagreed with the locals, claiming that he hasn't heard of a single complaint about the autonomous cars. 


And when it comes to why Waymo believes that some locals are having trouble with its autonomous vehicles, the company states that the complains are most likely due to the "communal misunderstanding of autonomy development as a whole," claims The Drive. 


After Uber's fatal accident, fear of riding in autonomous vehicles as risen in the United States. A survey that was conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) revealed that the majority of American drivers – approximately 75 percent of them – claimed to be afraid of getting a ride in a self-driving vehicle. Only 10 percent of drivers, according to AAA's survey, stated that they were comfortable sharing the road with self-driving vehicles. 


With that in mind, it's easy to see how locals would complain about being forced to drive alongside autonomous cars that aren't operating in a familiar way. 

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