Self-Driving Cars in SF
Waymo Vehicle photographed by Justin Sullivan
As a freshman, I am very busy with driving school. I have to learn about different signs and when to make specific turns. When I get unmotivated, I often think about what life would be like in a world where we had self-driving cars. Transportation would be highly efficient, as computers would route and steer perfectly. Also, there would not be any driver’s ed.
In San Francisco, you have likely seen a sleek white car with a spinning disc on top. These vehicles are owned by a Google startup company called Waymo. Their mission is to make driving autonomous. This will mitigate car crashes and ensure safety for passengers. Over its 12 years of existence, Waymo has accumulated over 20 billion miles with its robot-assisted mechanism. The rotating cylinder has three LIDAR (Laser Imaging, Detecting, and Ranging) systems that perceive depth and range. It works by emitting lasers and measuring how long the light takes to return. Waymo has many other sensors and radar systems that guarantee passenger safety.
People can use the Waymo One app to receive a ride from one of the Waymo vehicles. The vehicle can accommodate up to three people. You must be 18 or older to hail a car, and can invite guests older than eight.
Waymo is just one example of technology’s amelioration during the 21st century. In a few years’ time, driving could become completely autonomous. Technology has the ability to replicate human tasks, and the future will hold many more advancements soon to come.
Jordan Liu '26 is a Vol. 71 Contributing Editor