Rider feedback helps shape Waymo’s driverless ride-hailing service

10:26 AM, Oct 27, 2020
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Earlier this month, autonomous technology company Waymo announced its ride-hailing service, Waymo One, would be available to the public with no trained vehicle operator in the front seats. While this historic moment has been more than a decade in the making, residents in the Phoenix East Valley had a role over the last several years in shaping the service as it can be experienced today.

Since 2017, Waymo has used the public’s feedback about its ride-hailing service to shape the future of shared mobility. A user experience researcher from Waymo talked about the most common topics brought up by riders and how the company uses this information to make its service better.

“For more than three years, our early riders have helped to shape the Waymo Driver and the service we’ve built by providing feedback on their experiences and needs,” said Naomi Guthrie, a senior user experience researcher at Waymo.

Guthrie works with various teams at Waymo, from engineering to design, to take rider feedback from trips and put that feedback into action.

“My job is to listen, observe, test and repeat so that we can improve our technology as well as the rider experience,” Guthrie said.

Because riding in a fully autonomous vehicle without a human driver is a completely new experience for many people, Waymo has focused a lot on people’s thoughts and impressions of their very first ride. Guthrie said Waymo learned riders care about more than just a cool experience.

“While riders love the experience, we’ve also learned that no matter how cool or novel it is, it still needs to be convenient for them to use in their everyday lives,” she said.

Waymo’s user experience team receives feedback on everything from routing to pickup and drop off locations, which might not always be right where riders thought they would be.

“In terms of improving these areas, a lot of it comes down to how we communicate and set expectations for our riders,” Guthrie said.

She said Waymo is constantly testing new ways to make riders feel at ease, whether it’s adding in new messages across the Waymo app or on the in-car screens to let riders know a route might be longer than usual or being more explicit in the app about where the Waymo Driver is going to pull over at the end of a ride.

“Feedback is a huge part of our work at Waymo and something we’re all obsessed with,” Guthrie said. “Our riders are at the heart of everything we do. We love learning from them and appreciate their help in shaping not just our Waymo One service, but the future of autonomous vehicle technology as a whole.”

Learn more at waymo.com.

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