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Autonomous Vehicles Google

Waymo’s Backseat Drivers: Confidential Data Reveals Self-Driving Taxi Hurdles

One passenger in a Waymo self-driving car complained that the awkward end to his ride felt like he was getting dropped off by his dad. Others said their Waymo rides made them late to work. Another praised his car for coping admirably with “idiot drivers” of the human variety during his ride.

The rider feedback is part of a trove of internal data viewed by The Information for more than 10,500 trips in vehicles operated by Waymo, the self-driving car division of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. For more than two years, Waymo has been ferrying passengers in the self-driving vehicles on public streets as it refines the technology in the hopes of a wider rollout. The passenger ratings and feedback come from rides that occurred in July and part of August—mostly in the Phoenix area—and show improvement compared to Waymo’s performance during 2,500 rides in the first quarter of the year, based on an earlier analysis

For the Phoenix area, negative passenger feedback about everything from comfort level in vehicles to the frequency of unsafe or annoying incidents dropped by 10 percentage points compared to the earlier period, according to the data. Riders gave a perfect rating to 70% of the trips they took during the period, even though the vehicles experienced a glitch or two in a small percentage of those trips. (See separate story for a detailed breakdown on the recent Waymo customer complaints.)

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