ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 6

The Navigator
Sam Abuelsamid
Principal Analyst,
eMobility
Guidehouse Insights
sam.abuelsamid@
guidehouse.com
Are robotaxis ready for prime time?
For this final print issue of ADAS & Autonomous
Vehicle Engineering, it seems fitting to give an
overview of the commercial robotaxi services that
currently are in operation. Despite repeated annual
promises from Elon Musk that Tesla owners would
be able to send out their vehicles to earn money as
robotaxis, the leading EV manufacturer is not much
closer to delivering this capability than it was in
2016. Instead, as of September, 2023, we currently
have two companies offering fully driverless ridehailing
services on public roads: Waymo and Cruise.
Waymo has offered paid driverless rides to
members of the public in Chandler, AZ since October
2020 and has since expanded to
virtually the entire Phoenix metropolitan
area. This summer, the California
Public Utilities Commission granted
permits to Waymo and General
Motors-owned Cruise to launch 24/7
fared operations throughout the city
of San Francisco. Waymo started its
service there in mid-August.
Cruise launched its paid service
that covers about one-third of San
Francisco during nighttime hours in
June 2022. Last December, Cruise
expanded into the Phoenix suburbs
and Austin, Texas. Readers probably have heard
about the Cruise's challenges in San Francisco:
groups of its vehicles stuck on the same block,
confused robotaxis obstructing traffic, delaying
emergency services and driving into wet concrete.
This has led to Cruise cutting the San Francisco
fleet of 200-plus vehicles in half while the company
addresses the problems.
In Austin, which I
visited in June and
September 2023, Cruise operates a much smaller
fleet, as it is expanding test operations to 10 U.S.
cities. It is holding off on building more Chevy
Bolt-based robotaxis while it waits on National
Highway Traffic Admin. (NHTSA) approval for the
company's purpose-built Origin. Rides are available
on any given night between 8 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.
During this time, there are around 8 or 10 driverless
Bolts roaming the city north of the Colorado River
waiting for passengers.
I could see the
car a block
away and
watched it turn
to loop another
six blocks
instead of
driving straight
toward me.
Hailing a ride is very much like requesting an
Uber or Lyft. You enter your destination in Cruise's
smartphone app and in a minute or two, it will
tell you when the robotaxi is expected to arrive.
That's where the problem starts. The small fleet
means you may be waiting considerably longer for
a pickup than you would a conventional ride-hail.
For the first ride on my most recent trip, arrival
took nearly 25 minutes, a problem exacerbated
by extremely convoluted routing. At one point I
observed exactly what added five minutes to my
wait time: I could see the car a block away and
watched it turn to loop another six blocks instead
of driving straight toward me.
Once onboard, the routes were
equally complex for no discernible
reason. Returning from the
University of Texas campus to my
hotel, Google Maps came up with a
route with an estimated drive time
of seven minutes. The Cruise route
had many seemingly unnecessary
turns that took the car further from
the destination before turning to go
the right direction. It ultimately took
about 27 minutes to arrive despite
no traffic. While having automated
vehicles use maneuvers such as three right turns
to avoid an " unprotected " left turn is reasonable
from a safety-optimization standpoint, turning off
a major one-way thoroughfare with no traffic to
instead loop through a neighborhood seemingly
adds risk.
The Cruise vehicles I rode in never did anything
particularly unsafe, although the path-planning
did result in some unusually wide turns. At one
point, we passed another Cruise vehicle stalled
in the middle of the road with is hazard lights
flashing. Since my previous ride in June, Cruise
has expanded the pickup and drop-off locations
in Austin, so I didn't have to walk six blocks to get
a ride. At this point, however, the inconvenience of
long waits and extended rides means I wouldn't
recommend the service for anything more than
a novelty for someone who wants to experience
one possible version of our new mobility future. ■
6 November 2023
ADAS & AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE ENGINEERING

ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023

ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - INTRO
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - OPPCVR1
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - CVR1
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - CVR2
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 1
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 2
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 3
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 4
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 5
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 6
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 7
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 8
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 9
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 10
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 11
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 12
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 13
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 14
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 15
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 16
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 17
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 18
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 19
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 20
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 21
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 22
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 23
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 24
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 25
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 26
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 27
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 28
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 29
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 30
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 31
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - 32
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - CVR3
ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - November 2023 - CVR4
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