Are you affiliated with or endorsed by Waymo?
Nope! Just doing this as a hobby. I receive no financial compensation from Waymo, and Waymo has no editing rights or say over the content in my videos. They're seeing them for the first time right alongside you. (Full disclosure: Except one video, where I was accidentally able to see something related to the car that revealed possible trade secrets, they asked me not to publish that. Also video #54, they asked for a preview but still had no editing rights.)
Wait, why was there a safety driver in that video? Didn't they get rid of safety drivers?
Well yes, but not quite. Safety drivers have been in the cars since the beginning--it was only recently that normal passengers got the opportunity to ride in the fully autonomous vehicles. Assuming I understand correctly, the original plan was to slowly add FA vehicles to the fleet--alongside ones with safety drivers. Essentially, you only had a small chance of getting a FA vehicle when you called a ride, at least back at the end of 2019 and very beginning of 2020. Then March 2020 happened, and Waymo shut down passenger operations until October. (That was a sad stretch of months for me) Since then, they've been slowly opening up the service. As I type this in March 2021, it's been completely open to the pubic for a few months now--the catch being that as a COVID precaution, you can't get a ride with a safety driver during normal operations, only empty cars. Though safety drivers are still around and operating the vehicles. It's very likely that if you travel to Chandler, the very first Waymo vehicle you see (and many subsequent) will have a safety driver. Naturally since several hundred cars have been removed from passenger service (but are still driving around), wait times are now quite a bit higher than they used to be. (15-25 minutes, sometimes pushing 50 at peak hours)
Okay great, but why was there a safety driver in your video?
When the weather gets even slightly questionable (not often in Chandler) Waymo reintroduces vehicles with safety drivers to passenger service for the following few days as a precaution. (And the wait times go down, hooray!) Folks in the industry tell me that the system probably works in the rain, but during inclement weather they don't have the "number of 9's after the decimal place" that they want in order to guarantee safety. (Just spitballing on the numbers here but, 99.999% confidence in the system during rain, as opposed to 99.99999%) As you can see in the rain disengagement video, the perception is still working after the rain starts; nothing looks off to the untrained eye. But I'm sure they have their reasons.
TL;DR: Safety drivers only when weather is bad, I specifically go out of my way to record a video when there are safety drivers to see if something will mess up, which tends to cause a bit of $tsla and $tslaq kerfuffle on Twitter.
How many fully autonomous vehicles is Waymo running? Vehicles in total?
Well as always with Waymo they don't tend to reveal exact information, but I do have an educated guess based off of data I've collected. For a few months after the October 2020 reopening, I was consistently getting one of about fifteen possible fully autonomous cars. Then around February/March of 2021, they either started adding more cars or cycling out the old ones. You can watch this shift happen in real-time with my ride data spreadsheet. Now that this has happened, I have no idea how many cars they could be running. Seems to not have helped all that much with the wait times though.
Will you do a video on FSD Beta?
If you give me the car ;D Hey man I'm just a college student, what did you expect
Thoughts on FSD Beta/what's your take?
Sorry no idea, I've never experienced it.
How big is the service area/where is it?
Scroll down to the very bottom, I put the answer down there since this site builder doesn't let me put images in the collapsible text boxes
Does Waymo go on the highway?
Not anymore, sadly. I think they used to (from some poking around) but they must have stopped before I joined the program.
What SAE level is Waymo?
When will they expand the service area?
Wish I knew, but I'll keep you guys posted. Recent interviews hint that they're not planning on it for Chandler anytime soon, but their next city launch is going to be San Francisco.
Can you add stops to the trip/will it wait for you?
Yes, they added this functionality in late March 2021
Is it true that Waymo won't do unprotected left turns?
No, it definitely does unprotected lefts (this is well documented in the videos) but it does avoid them... sometimes. Maybe like 25% of the time?
What if there's a construction zone or the road is blocked? Will it reroute?
Yes indeed, documented in videos as well
Is remote assistance 'joysticking' the car?
No, they don't have the ability to do that. What they can do is give the car input on what to do next--for example set a point on a map or tell it to ignore an obstacle.
Where does the car go when it drops you off? What is it doing all day?
Collecting data while dynamic routing. Pick a random spot in the service area, navigate to it. Pick another one, navigate to it. Pick another one, etc.
What if there's an emergency vehicle?
Documented in videos but, in short, it reacts the exact legal way it should. (Give right of way, don't go through the intersection, unlock doors/turn on lights if being pulled over)
Will you test at night?
JJRicks Rides With Waymo #5, #6, & #7
Can anyone ride/how do I try this?
Step 1: Be in Chandler, Arizona, USA
Step 2: Get the Waymo app
Step 3: Profit
Does Waymo overtake?
Not that I've seen at least. Lane changes for routing purposes only
How does the car know it's you/when to unlock the doors?
Bluetooth proximity to the phone that hailed the ride
How did you do that little traffic light countdown timer?
After Effects; time expression
Will you test it in snow?
Sorry, this is a desert. :P (What one of my guests called "terraformed mars" the first time he saw it) We don't get any snow--but if by some miracle we do, you can bet I'll try and make a video out of it.
Is the LiDAR point cloud prerecorded or realtime?
100% confident it's realtime, from close observation.
Will you make a Patreon?
I appreciate your help, it means a lot! But I think it might be against Waymo's terms of service to 'sell the experience' so I'd rather not risk it.
Current service area (Since October 2020)
Each side of every square in the grid is one mile long, for size context
Size comparison to Phoenix Metro Area
Old service area (Dec 2018-Mar 2020)
I think that as soon as safety drivers are allowed to start taking rides again, they'll open it back up to this size. What we're seeing right now is probably strictly the fully autonomous service area.