How safe are self-driving cars? Expect to see more across the Valley

CHANDLER, AZ - Arizona roadways are one step closer to seeing more self-driving cars after a major test took place in Chandler Wednesday.

The engineers behind Waymo’s self-driving cars collaborated with Chandler’s fire and police departments to test the vehicles in emergency situations.

The driverless cars learned how to respond when it hears sirens and sees emergency lights.

“We’ve been learning what different kinds of emergency vehicles look like and sound like, what the lights look like,” explained Lead Systems Engineer Jaime Waydo, who works for Waymo. “It’s what you or I do every day. You’re building up a library of images effectively that help you know that when you see something similar to that it’s probably the same thing.”

Chandler Fire Chief Tom Dwiggins is on board with the new technology. He believes it could make Arizona streets safer.

“It is difficult to see and hear our emergency vehicles, so technology that can enhance that and can actually detect us before the driver can detect us, is a good thing,” Dwiggins said.

Waymo has 600 self-driving cars on the road right now.

Waydo hopes the cars will become the “norm” in the next decade.

“My big goal is my 7-year-old son will never ever, ever drive,” she said. 

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