Robert Stone and Sheila Zieglowsky aren’t the typical image of technological early adopters, but the octogenarians have been quick to take up a newly expanded ride-hailing service that uses self-driving cars.
Waymo, owned by Google parent company Alphabet Inc., already has hundreds of cars on the road that have collectively logged more than 1 million miles with just passengers — no humans behind the wheel.
Zeiglowsky told CBS News the service is “convenient” and “comfortable.”
Stone, at 83 years old, said he’s “thinking about retiring from driving. And this is just a great way to go.”
Waymo works — and costs — about the same as an Uber. The ride-hailing service is seen as years ahead of its competitors in developing autonomous vehicles.
The self-driving technology allows the cars to see up to three football fields ahead and the vehicles have only had two minor collisions from September 2020 through January 2023.
Waymo did acknowledge, however, that one of its vehicles hit and killed a small dog last month.
“The investigation is ongoing, however the initial review confirmed that the system correctly identified the dog which ran out from behind a parked vehicle but was not able to avoid contact,” the company told CBS News in a statement. Waymo also said that a human “autonomous specialist” was in the driver’s seat at the time.
A recent survey conducted by AAA found that 68% of drivers are “afraid” of self-driving vehicles.
Adam Lenz, Waymo’s head of sustainability, said that it may just be a matter of people getting used to it.
“What we’ve seen is that people experiencing the technology really leads to people using it more and having more trust,” Lenz said.
For now, Waymo’s fleet of fully electric Jaguars are only operating in two cities.
“If you do go to a place like Phoenix or San Francisco, you can get a taste of the future,” automotive journalist Tim Stevens said. “But that technology may not come to your own home city for maybe another 10 or 15 years or more.”
In the meantime, Zeiglowsky and Stone are liking the way the future feels.