Happy new year. I’m writing to you from Chandler, AZ: Phoenix suburb and the “Self-Driving Capital of the World” according to Wired. I came out here to ride Waymo AVs and as it happens, today is the rare rainy day in town (which presented exactly the kind of complications I was hoping to encounter tbh). Why I am doing this is not exactly a secret, but I’ll discuss that more in future newsletters. In the meantime, here are quick notes on my experience of riding four fully-unself-driven driver-drove extremely un-autonomous Waymo Ones.
There was moderate rain this morning and when I tried to hail a Waymo, I got an alert that said, “All cars are busy. Please try again later.” By lunch time, the rain stopped and I finally booked a ride from Whole Foods to Target. There was another alert that said, “an autonomous specialist is accompanying this ride.”
It took about ten minutes for the car to arrive. From where I stood, I could see what looked like human hands on the steering wheel somewhat obscured by the the windshield glare. When I got in, the driver—who stayed silent as the automated voice said something like “Hello Joanne. Enjoy your ride”—was not only steering but driving the car as any ordinary driver would.