Google stopped developing autopilot feature after test user napped

Waymo self driving car tests

Alphabet Inc’s self-driving vehicle system stopped developing functions that needed motorists to take control in unsafe scenarios, its chief executive said Monday, as auto-pilot dependence left users vulnerable to interruptions and ill-prepared to maneuver.

The decision came after experiments of the technology in Silicon Valley that revealed test users taking a nap, putting on makeup and using with their phones as the vehicles traveled as much as 56 mph.

John Krafcik, the head of Waymo, informed reporters that about 5 years ago the company envisioned technology that could autonomously own cars on highways as a fast way to get on the marketplace.

Other self-driving automakers consist of comparable auto-pilot features for highway-driving in vehicles, but they need motorists to take control of the steering wheel in tricky situations. Waymo prepared to do the same.

“What we found was pretty frightening,” Krafcik stated on Monday during a media tour of a Waymo testing center. “It’s hard to take over because they have lost contextual awareness.”

Krafcik said the company identified a system that asked drivers to jump in at the sound of an alert was hazardous after seeing videos from inside self-driving vehicles during tests.

The recorded tests were carried out in 2013, with Google workers behind the wheel. The videos had not been openly shown till Monday’s event, Waymo spokeswoman Lauren Barriere stated.

The company decided to focus exclusively on innovation that didn’t need human intervention a few days after the napping incident, stated Krafcik, who joined with as CEO in 2015. It has likewise since refuted enabling “handoffs” between automated driving systems and individuals.

“Our technology looks after all of the driving, permitting passengers to stay passengers,” the company has stated.

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