With more than 5 million autonomous miles logged on public roads, Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo, is celebrating the major milestone with free rides in a driverless minivan.
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Waymo has opened its doors to its driverless Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan wth a 360-degree ride-along in Phoenix, Arizona. The company has recreated what a self-driving car “sees” all around while driving around to improve the technology to one day implement autonomous vehicles on all roads.
Waymo started test driving its fleet of Pacificas without a driver in Phoenix in October. Starting in April similar driver-less test rides can happen on California public roads. Waymo has been testing in California since 2009 and always with a support driver.
The self-driving video shows the laser and sensor tracking from LIDAR technology (that sounds familiar because this was the coveted Light Detection and Ranging tech that Uber and Waymo argued over in court) and radar waves bounding off nearby objects. Cameras on the car pick up crucial information like if a streetlight is red or green. Based on Waymo’s software the car predicts what pedestrians and bicyclists or the vehicle the next lane over will do — and the video shows the car anticipating the next move.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what a driverless ride looks like in reality against a computer representation of the road, obstacles, and other markings.
Waymo ramped up its mileage in the past year with 1 million miles driven in the past three months. It took five years for the company to test out its first million.
The immersive video can also be watched in a VR viewer or on mobile or desktop — be sure to look behind you or even above to take in all the autonomy in action.