I rode in one of Zoox's self-driving cars in San Francisco - and it was more comfortable than the Uber and Lyft I took to and from the airport
Mark Matousek/Business Insider
- I rode in a test vehicle from the autonomous-vehicle startup Zoox in San Francisco last week.
- While the ride wasn't perfect, the vehicle performed as well as the average human driver.
- And the ride was more comfortable than the Uber and Lyft I took to and from the airport during my trip to San Francisco.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The autonomous-vehicle startup Zoox, which was founded in 2014, decided to focus on one of the hardest testing environments first. Rather than starting in a quiet suburb, the company chose to begin testing its technology in San Francisco.While warm weather and the absence of snow make it easier for self-driving vehicles to operate; dense, urban environments are more difficult to navigate than slower-paced subdivisions that normally boast wide streets that are typically clear of most obstructions.Advertisement
I took a ride in one of Zoox's test vehicles earlier this week as it drove through one of the company's "challenge" routes. The route featured steep roads, narrow streets with parked cars on either side, and an unprotected left turn at a six-way intersection.
While the ride wasn't perfect, the vehicle performed as well as the average human driver, and the ride was more comfortable than the Uber and Lyft I took to and from the airport during my trip to San Francisco.Here's what it was like.
The ride began outside one of Zoox's offices in San Francisco.
The ride took about 30 minutes.Advertisement
While the vehicle was moving, I was trying to pay attention to its performance and the safety driver's hands to see if he took control, while also taking notes, so I was only able to take photos when the vehicle was stopped.
With a few exceptions, the vehicle drove as well as the average human driver.Advertisement
If I hadn't known I was in an autonomous vehicle, I would never have thought that I was being driven by a computer.
And it was able to complete an unprotected left turn at a six-way intersection.Advertisement
There were a few hiccups, though.
In an interview after my ride, Zoox CTO and cofounder Jesse Levinson told me that the company's vehicles are better than human drivers at following the rules of the road, but worse at handling unusual events.Advertisement
So while Zoox vehicles are better than humans at stopping at stop signs and following speed limits, Levinson said, they're worse at predicting the behavior of vehicles being driven erratically, because humans, of course, can be unpredictable.
My ride in Zoox's vehicle was more comfortable than those I took through Uber and Lyft on my way to and from the airport during my trip to San Francisco.Advertisement
It's important to note that the route used for my Zoox ride has likely been tested extensively, which means it's difficult to draw many conclusions about Zoox's autonomous-driving technology beyond my specific and relatively brief experience.
But overall, I was impressed.Advertisement
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