Waymo's fully automatic taxis will appear already this year
Waymo is ready to launch a taxi without drivers with minimal federal supervision
Waymo, a Google Mobile project, is planning to launch a taxi without a driver in Phoenix in the next three months. Arizona. It will not be a trial project or a publicity stunt. Waymo plans to launch a publicly available commercial service - no man behind the wheel.
And so far, Waymo technology has attracted surprisingly little attention from government officials, both in the city of Phoenix and in Washington, DC
If a company wants to sell a new aircraft or medical device, it will have to undergo a comprehensive study and prove its safety by the federal regulator. For ro-mobiles, there are no similar requirements yet. Federal and state laws allow Waymo to put robomobils on Arizona public roads without any formal approval.
And this is not an oversight. This is the result of a two-party consensus in Washington, concluded because of the opinion that tight surveillance of roaming vehicles will do more harm than good.
sent such a report this year.
When I spoke to Katie Chase in August, she was biting about the reports from Waymo and other automakers. “They are more like glossy advertising brochures than a data set,” she said.
“We need information on Waymo,” said Henry Jasny, a lawyer from the Society for Road Safety and Automotive Safety, shortly after the publication of the Waymo report last year.
Waymo claims in a statement that their 43-page report actually provides a wealth of information about the safety of their vehicles.
“We intend to tell the public and regulators about this new technology, which, in our opinion, can save thousands of lives, and about the meticulous process we use to test it,” a company spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail last week. She argues that the Waymo safety report "provides a detailed description of our test programs, both in the text sections describing the tests and in the notes, which specifically describe certain types of tests specifically designed to be informative for regulators and the public."
And indeed, the Waymo report includes a long list of test scenarios executed in the company. For example, Waymo says that its cars are capable of coping with a scenario called “a completely autonomous vehicle is approaching a braking lead vehicle.”
But this report did not include detailed information that would allow an independent analysis of the Waymo test process. What are the exact test parameters? How many times did they chase them away? How did the car behave? This is not a report.
The same is true for testing cars on public roads. Waymo has passed nine million miles of tests on such[14 млн км]roads. , many of which drove cars with a driver behind the wheel. But the public has very little information about how these tests were passed. This is especially true for Arizona, in which (unlike in neighboring California), companies developing robomobils do not have to send regular test reports.
For example, in August the resource The Information published 3r-3211. article
where it was written that some Phoenix residents were annoyed by the need to share roads with Waymo cars, which often behaved uncertainly where a live driver would not have behaved that way. A resident of Mountain View laid out several video clips , on which Waymo cars died in situations that would not embarrass human drivers.
Do these messages mean that Waymo software has a big problem? Or is it a few too much bloated individual accidents? It is difficult to say without detailed data on how robomobils behave in the real world. Waymo undoubtedly has such data; she just did not make them available to everyone.
Personally, it seems to me that Waymo will eventually disgrace critics. The company began to develop robomobiles long before other competitors, so she had the opportunity to calmly and gradually move towards commercialization.
But trials are always more reliable and thorough with independent oversight. The public has every reason to be skeptical about them until the company proves the safety of their cars, backing up words with comprehensive data and independent analysis. Under current federal and state laws, a company is not required to do this. But perhaps it is in her best interest to do it.
“If the company gives out more information about how its cars behave, it will do her good, because ultimately it’s necessary that people trust cars, and that trust can be earned by proving their safety,” says Chase.
If Waymo launches a commercial service without releasing meaningful data on machine performance, or not allowing an independent technology review, this will set a precedent that will allow other companies — perhaps less conscientious — to do the same.
According to the rules, "anyone can get a car on the road," says Chase. “Joe Garazhkin can build such a car, put it on the road, and then it will fall into a terrible accident.”
Model reliable company
If the FDA-style formal check fails, what can regulators do instead? Bryant Walker Smith advocates using what he calls a “trustworthy company” model for regulating robots. Instead of writing detailed technical standards for robots, he says regulators should concentrate on approving development processes. and testing the robots of the companies themselves.
Smith wants “government officials to say: Do these companies deserve trust? Do they honestly convey information? Do their statements confirm? ”
“Regulation is not just rules or approvals,” notes Smith. “Regulation is all the tools available to officials: investigations, inquiries, revocation of permits, penalties for misrepresenting information.”
In this model, regulators will not focus on a direct assessment of technology, but on ensuring that companies that produce robobies support corporate culture and a set of processes that put safety first. Regulators should force companies to prove in detail the safety of their vehicles, backing this up with facts.
So far, Waymo is not doing anything, at least in public. Since the launch of the company almost two years ago, it has emphasized the security of its technology. “Security is in the heart of the Waymo mission and everything we do,” a company representative wrote to me by mail.
But the company has not yet released enough data to confirm its statements about security. We know that Waymo registered millions of miles on the roads of Arizona, but we know little about how their cars behaved.
Waymo need not just to create a safe technology, but also to convince the public of its safety. This can be helped by greater transparency both about the technology and about its testing.
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