Waymo rolls out a car without pedals or steering wheel

Illustration: Waymo

When there are countless ride-hailing apps, there are only so many ways for newbies to differentiate themselves from the Ubers and Lyfts of the world. Well, leave it to Alphabet’s self-driving car arm, Waymo, to do just that: on Wednesdays announced a new kind of ride-hailing vehicle with no pedals, a steering wheel or a driver and it would be coming to the US sometime in the unspecified future.

The design is charted as part of Waymo One, the company’s burgeoning ride-hailing service that is currently rolling out in San Francisco following its Phoenix debut. late last year. Your whole gimmick is based on autonomy: each Waymo One vehicle will be branded as ‘fully autonomous’ meaning – in ideal conditions-the cars can only take drivers to their destination based on their self-driving software. If there is a driver on board, he is in a standby position, where they sit next to the drivers to monitor any hiccups in the car’s steering ability. (Waymo One only works without a driver) in Phoenix, Arizona.)

In other words, these cars normally don’t have anyone behind the wheel. So it’s not hard to just… throw the wheel all the way out.

Auto purists may scoff at the idea of ​​stripping out the basic pieces of hardware that make a car a car, but there’s no denying that the mockups Waymo included in the announcement look downright cozy. The car’s design — a modified Zeekr minibus whose shape falls somewhere between “luxury vehicle” and “sort of egg-like” — is the result of a collaboration between Waymo and Zeekr’s parent company, Chinese automaker Geely. Much of the unusual design can be traced back to accessibility: Waymo’s concept features a flat floor with a low step-in height and doors that slide instead of swinging open on a hinge. And while these cars may lack a driver’s seat, Waymo promises passengers will have plenty of leg and headroom, not to mention reclining seats.

Anyone else getting “airplane interior” vibes from these illustrations? Anyone? Illustration: Waymo

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Before you get too excited, know that these futuristic car eggs won’t be whizzing through your streets anytime soon. Waymo mentioned in its blog that it plans to introduce these electric, rider-first, fully autonomous vehicles “in the next few years” to its US fleet. Mysterious!

Frankly, we should give the company all the time it needs. It is known that autonomous cars, like regular cars, kill people-and much of the testing that happens with driverless vehicles is completely devoid of regulations. the Senate historically stranded when it comes to getting these things under control, which means that the responsibility for oversight falls to individual states. So we’re stuck with a patchwork of dark rules dictate how these machines should be operated. By the time these futuristic cars come to the public, perhaps lawmakers will have their act together.

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