A number of companies that are working on autonomous driving systems are implementing features that require a driver to take control in hairy situations. But Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet (Google's parent company) recently revealed they have stopped developing these features. The reason is simple, drivers lacked the awareness to take over driving.
Waymo's CEO John Krafcik told reporters yesterday the decision to scrap this technology comes down to experiments done back in 2013 with Google employees that were filmed. The videos shown for the first time outside of Google showed people messing on their phones, putting on makeup, and even someone deciding to take a nap.
“What we found was pretty scary. It’s hard to take over because they have lost contextual awareness,” said Krafcik.
After the napping incident, plans for a driver to intervene were scrapped. Since then, Waymo has been working on technologies that didn't require human interaction. As such, Waymo's Chrysler Pacificas running in Phoenix, AZ only have two 'drive' buttons: one to start a drive and the other to tell the vehicle to pull over at its earliest convenience.