When Google spun off its self-driving car project in 2016 as a separate company called Waymo, the auto world took notice. Since then, Waymo has led the pack of autonomous vehicle developers, setting the stage for what could be a massive transformation in personal mobility. The company was among the first to deploy fully driverless cars, and it has its sights set on ride-hailing and freight hauling as its commercial pursuits. Waymo’s position at the top of the technological hierarchy will tell us whether self-driving cars are truly transformative or just a passing fad.
Well that’s a terrible headline! An autonomous Waymo vehicle struck and killed a small dog in San Francisco last month, according to an incident report spotted by TechCrunch. Waymo says the accident was unavoidable, and of course over a million pets are mowed down by human drivers every year. Still, this incident will be an interesting test of my theory about AVs, which is that while we have an extremely high tolerance for death caused by human drivers, we have an extremely low tolerance for robot-caused deaths. My guess is that extends to furry friends too.
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