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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: 320174

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22294271
Hinds20755424
Harrison18450317
Rankin13923282
Jackson13733249
Madison10273225
Lee10063176
Jones8473167
Forrest7837153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6523150
Lamar636288
Lafayette6314121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4841133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4606148
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425973
Monroe4162136
Union415877
Neshoba4065180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3373111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314571
Adams308486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292268
Prentiss284261
Leake272374
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232369
Winston230282
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210659
Holmes190574
Stone188733
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135447
Greene131834
Lawrence131224
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108334
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549013

Reported Deaths: 11311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810461571
Mobile42145831
Madison35718525
Tuscaloosa26179458
Shelby25626254
Montgomery25089614
Baldwin21901314
Lee16287176
Calhoun14724327
Morgan14639285
Etowah14183364
Marshall12454230
Houston10791287
Elmore10301214
Limestone10188157
St. Clair10161251
Cullman9958201
Lauderdale9612250
DeKalb8977190
Talladega8462184
Walker7341280
Autauga7242113
Jackson6953113
Blount6950139
Colbert6415140
Coffee5638127
Dale4930116
Russell454941
Chilton4478116
Franklin431782
Covington4279122
Tallapoosa4144155
Escambia401880
Chambers3728124
Dallas3610158
Clarke353161
Marion3245107
Pike314578
Lawrence3134100
Winston283572
Bibb268564
Geneva258481
Marengo250665
Pickens237062
Barbour234559
Hale227178
Butler224671
Fayette218962
Henry194443
Randolph187644
Cherokee187345
Monroe180641
Washington170739
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156357
Cleburne153644
Lamar146937
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124542
Conecuh113630
Coosa111629
Perry108626
Sumter105832
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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