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Take A Ride In A Driverless Car: Waymo On Safety, Slow Rollout Of Driverless Tech

waymo car
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
file | staff
A Waymo self-driving car.

If you drive in the Phoenix area, you might be getting used to seeing self-driving cars on the road. Waymo has a fleet of minivans with big cameras on top driving around the East Valley and, in April, the Google company launched an early ridership program here as well.

Now, hundreds of people here can call up a driverless car to go to work or to the doctor or, in the case of Tempe retiree Barbara Adams, to go to her weekly book club, to meet friends for dinner, etc.

Adams is one of the early riders who signed up to be one of the early adopters for this burgeoning technology. And she said, for her and her husband, it was a matter of convenience more than anything else.

But self-driving cars have a long way to go before everyone is ready to jump in and take a ride. In March, the public perception of the technology had a massive setback when an autonomous Uber vehicle struck and killed a Tempe woman who was crossing the street at night.

Since then, the company ended its self-driving operations and testing here in the Valley.

Because of this, Waymo is cautiously rolling out its technology and focusing on safety. But its cars have been driving on public roads for some time now. In fact, today, the company announced its vehicles have officially driven 10 million miles of public roads — many of them right here in Arizona.

The Show got to check out how it all works at their Chandler facilities. Product manager Clem Wright showed KJZZ's Lauren Gilger around the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.