Google’s Waymo driverless vans pick up real people in big Arizona test

Waymo, bring the van around please

If you think self-driving autonomous cars are still something that’ll arrive in the future, then the future is happening right now in Arizona. Google’s robot car spinoff Waymo is testing out some of its self-driving Pacifica hybrid minivans in Phoenix, and they’ve started an “early rider program” for some lucky residents. Participants get 24/7 access to the self-driving test vans with the hard-to-miss LIDAR domes on top.

The passengers’ end of the deal involves giving Waymo feedback on how the vans are working, and of course, volunteering to be guinea pigs of sorts as Waymo irons out the wrinkles of its self-driving tech. According to a post on Medium, Waymo has an order in for 500 of the vans and says they will include hundreds of people in the pilot – or pilotless – program. Meanwhile, both Uber and GM are testing robot cars in nearby Scottsdale. The future is here- at least in Arizona.

4K for less than $2K

So, been waiting to upgrade from your ancient HDTV to one of those shiny new 4K models with all the bells and whistles? Well, the time is now, according to Vizio. 4K TVs have come down in price pretty quickly, and Vizio just rolled out their latest P and M series models. How about $1,600 bucks for a 65-inch HDR model? Or under $1,000 for a 55-incher?

For this model year, Vizio has decided that tablets maybe aren’t the best choice for a remote and has reverted back to a regular-style remote, but we should also note that none of these TVs comes with a built-in over-the-air tuner, because who uses one these day anyway? Instead, the “displays,” as Vizio calls them, include Chromecast built in along with lots of apps, since most us stream our shows or use cable boxes. Go here for more details.

Hey, no pressure, Samsung…

With the release of the Samsung Galaxy S8 phones last month, all attention has turned to the next iPhone, but Samsung has another phone up its sleeve: the.. in our opinion… questionably named Galaxy Note 8. That’s right, the follow-up to the disaster known as the Note 7 will likely appear several months ahead of Apple’s latest and greatest.

And while we haven’t seen any design clues for the Note 8 from Samsung, that hasn’t stopped others from trying their hand at rendering what will hopefully be the non-flammable follow-up to the S8. BGR says the expected specs for the Note 8 include 6 gigs of RAM, 64 and 128 gig memory options, a dual-lens camera setup, iris scanner, S-Pen, and a hefty 4,000milliamp battery we hope and pray is tested 10 ways from Sunday before the phones get shipped out. Hit the link for more video and Note 8 predictions.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.