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Google launches self-driving ride service in Arizona

Self-driving vehicle technology just took a big step forward in Arizona. On Dec. 5, Google introduced a short-distance ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area featuring its Waymo autonomous cars.

Google has been developing Waymo vehicles since 2009. During that time, the cars have logged over 10 million miles on public roads in Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan and Washington. Overall, they have performed well, only getting into a few minor accidents. However, earlier this year, one of Uber's self-driving test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, attracting worldwide media attention and sending shockwaves through the burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry. As a result, Google is exercising caution in the initial stages of its ride-hailing service named Waymo One.

For one thing, Waymo One's cars will have human drivers on board who can take over if something goes wrong. For example, Google openly admits that some left-hand turns confuse its vehicles. During a California test ride in October, a Waymo vehicle performed perfectly until it encountered a FedEx delivery truck making a left turn in front of it. It responded by abruptly pulling off to the side of the road and attempting to contact rider support for assistance. In the end, a human driver had to take over and drive the vehicle back to headquarters. Waymo is also showing caution by limiting its service to around 200 people who signed up for a free pilot program last year. However, it will eventually offer the service to the general public.

If passengers or pedestrians are injured in car accidents with a driverless vehicle, they have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages. An attorney may help prepare and file the claim.

Source: ABC15, "Waymo One: self-driving ride service debuts in Phoenix Wednesday," Dec. 5, 2018

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