Watch how folks react during rides in Waymo’s driverless cars

While many of today’s driverless car trials still include an engineer in the driving seat, ready to take over in case the vehicle takes a turn for the worse (so to speak), Waymo recently received permission to start sending some of its cars onto the streets without engineers, and with passengers in the back.

The self-driving project once operated by Google has just posted a video showing the reactions of these regular folks, each of whom signed up to become part of Waymo’s Early Rider program so they could try the self-driving vehicles for themselves.

The special rides have been taking place in Phoenix, Arizona, and use Chrysler Pacifica minivans modified by Waymo.

The short video (above) is an upbeat affair and shows riders of all ages appearing to enjoy the experience as their car tootles about the streets of Phoenix, with the steering wheel turning all by itself as it executes various maneuvers.

“This is weird,” a mother comments to her smiling son as they set off down the road. “This is the future,” utters another rider, while someone else notes the surprise of a passing human driver when they spotted the empty driver’s seat.

The video then shows clips presumably taken after the riders have experienced a few journeys in the self-driving car, with the novelty clearly having worn off. There’s less excitement, some are checking their smartphones, others are yawning, and yes, some are fast asleep.

It’s all part of a broader marketing effort by Waymo to convince the public that there’s nothing to fear from climbing into a car without a driver. It’s a serious issue for the many companies currently developing self-driving vehicles, with the results of a survey published in 2017 suggesting that more than 50 percent of people would refuse to ride in a fully autonomous car.

Efforts by Waymo to persuade people of the safety of driverless cars include digital, outdoor, and radio advertising, while a recently launched “Let’s Talk Self-driving” website offers a steady stream of relevant information and advice.

In February, the company released a 360 video shot from one of its driverless cars that explains how its technology works to ensure every journey is safe.

Waymo’s self-driving cars have driven more than five million miles on public roads since the project started in 2009, and in Phoenix the cars have been without a safety driver since late last year. The company is aiming to launch a full-fledged ridesharing service in the city some time this year.


Lime’s first carsharing service motors into Seattle this week

Lime may be better known for its app-based bike and scooter rental services, but in Seattle, Washington this week it's launching its very first carsharing service, similar to Car2go and Zipcar.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.

Waymo will launch its commercial autonomous ridesharing service in December

Waymo will launch a commercial ridesharing service using self-driving cars in December, according to a new report. As previously discussed by Waymo, the service will operate in specific areas around Phoenix, Arizona.

Autonomous cars could lead to sex on wheels, study shows

Fully autonomous cars can change the way we commute, but they can also have a far-reaching impact on the tourism industry. Two researchers published a study that outlines how self-driving technology could create a new dimension in tourism.

Prep your car for the coming snow and sleet with these cold weather tips

Driving in the winter, whether downtown or across the country, is rarely easy. Luckily, we've put together a quick rundown of a few things you should do to winterize your car before the snow officially hits.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.

Many adults believe fully self-driving cars are already traversing U.S. highways

The American Automobile Association tested cars with features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control and found them lacking in real-world conditions. Forty percent of surveyed U.S. adults think self-driving cars exist now.

Want to keep connected on the road? Here are 5 ways to add Bluetooth to your car

The best way to make an old ride feel young again is to bring it up speed with the 21st century. Here's how to properly add Bluetooth to your vehicle, via independent kits, vehicle adapters, or aftermarket head units.

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.

The hamster-friendly 2020 Kia Soul will rock out at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Kia has released a teaser image to preview the next Soul. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2020 Soul will keep the outgoing model's boxy proportions but it will wear a sharper design.

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan aims to offer sharper handling, better tech

The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan gets the same upgrades as the recently-introduced Corolla hatchback, including a firmer foundation, new engine, and more tech features. Will that be enough to keep the long-lived Corolla nameplate relevant?

Startup Rivian exits stealth mode with a bold promise to electrify off-roaders

Electric car startup Rivian has finally turned off stealth mode and provided details about what it's been working on since 2009. It will build battery-powered off-roaders instead of taking on Tesla and others in the luxury EV segment.

Honda will squeeze another model into its SUV lineup at the Los Angeles show

Honda will introduce a new SUV with a familiar nameplate at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. It envisioned the 2019 Passport as a five-seater alternative to the eight-seater Pilot. The two models will share a platform and many tech features.

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.