>> We often think of a self-driving car like an airplane on auto pilot. Fine for cruising along, but in emergency, the driver grabs the wheel. But Google has found that's asking too much. Experiments by the Silicon Valley giant show that as autonomous cars cruise to speeds of up to 56 mph, drivers were either napping, putting on makeup, or fiddling with their smartphones.
None ideal for when you suddenly have to steer yourself to safety. The CEO of Google's self-driving unit Waymo told reporters Monday, quote, what we found was pretty scary. Explaining that humans had difficulty switching from passenger to driver because they had, quote, lost contextual awareness. The filmed tests were conducted in 2013 with Google employees behind the wheel, but not shown publicly until a press event, Monday.
They're the reason Google stopped developing systems that allow highway drivers to take control in risky moments, something other autonomous car makers feature. Waymo is running a ride hailing pilot program around Phoenix, Arizona that chauffeurs an undisclosed but growing number of users. The service area is limited to well-mapped roads on which Waymo has extensively tested.
Waymo's CEO declined to specify when the company would expand beyond the experiment, saying only that that moment is getting close.