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Waymo CEO: Our self-driving cars are safe

The CEO of Waymo, the driverless car division of Google parent company Alphabet, said his company's driverless cars a...

Posted: Mar 28, 2018 9:33 AM
Updated: Mar 28, 2018 9:33 AM

The CEO of Waymo, the driverless car division of Google parent company Alphabet, said his company's driverless cars are safe.

After a fatal accident involving an Uber driverless car in Arizona last week, several companies have suspended testing on public roads, including Toyota, Nvidia and Uber itself.

But Waymo is still testing its cars in Arizona and elsewhere.

In fact, Waymo isn't just testing otherwise empty cars with someone in the driver's seat ready to take over in an instant. The company is giving rides to selected Arizona residents in self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans with no-one at all in the driver's seat.

"Our confidence stems from the fact that we've been working on this for so long and we've been focused throughout this mission on ensuring the safety of the cars and the technology," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in an interview with CNN.

Krafcik's confidence lies, especially, in Waymo's software. Just as any car can be dangerous with a bad driver behind the wheel, no matter how good the brakes and airbags are, even the best cameras and sensors can't make a safe driverless car without smart software running it all.

Driving the Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV

Waymo says it's working to build "the world's most experienced driver." Krafcik boasts that Waymo has put its self-driving technology through 5 million miles of testing on public roads, in addition to 5 billion miles of computer simulation models and some 20,000 different tests on private proving grounds.

The resulting software adjustments and improvements are shared across Waymo's entire fleet of cars all over America. In this way, Waymo's computerized "driver" can gain years worth of experience in days or weeks.

The goal is to create a software "driver" that's better than any human driver. But how good is good enough?

"One and a quarter million people die every year [in car crashes.]" Krafcik said. "It's like a 737 crashing every hour of every day."

The vast majority of these crashes are caused by simple human error, including things like drunk driving and aggressive driving. The question is, how good should a software-based driver be before the technology is released on the world's roads. Should we wait until the software is perfect, or just until it's significantly better than the average human?

Krafcik said he wasn't sure.

"I think our job is to make things as safe as possible and to do our part to improve the situation that we have right now which is clearly not acceptable," he said.

Krafcik was speaking shortly after he unveiled Waymo's newest driverless a car, an autonomous version of the electric Jaguar I-Pace crossover SUV. Waymo bills it as the world's first driverless electric SUV.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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