Introduced as a Waymo 360° experience, the immersive video (see below) recreates in full detail a self-driving ride. Viewers can control the camera to “see through the eyes” of a Waymo vehicle by either moving a mobile viewing device around, using it with a virtual reality headset, or by dragging the video around the screen on a desktop.
“This is the latest step in our efforts to help people understand our technology and how it can make it safer and easier for everyone to get around,” says Meiling Tan, Head of Marketing, Waymo. “It follows on the launch of Let’s Talk Self-Driving, the world’s first self-driving public education campaign, and our first-ever Safety Report.”
Using 360° video to demonstrate Waymo’s constant 360-degree field of view technology, says the company, lets viewers see firsthand what it means to have millions of data points surrounding them in all directions at any given moment. It also can be used to compare with how human drivers perceive the world.
The basis of the video was created from data obtained from driving one of Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans on the streets of Metro Phoenix, Arizona. The laser visualization in the video presents a simplified view of the LiDAR data collected by the vehicle’s sensors – the radar animation showing how the sensors bounce radar waves off surrounding objects to gauge their position and speed.
The traffic lights in the camera scene are examples of visible objects that were detected by the vehicle’s high-resolution cameras. The predictions of what each pedestrian, cyclist, or vehicle will do next in the video are based off of real-time predictions made by the company’s self-driving software.
“We’ve also found that people who ride with Waymo tend to relax quickly as they follow the car’s live field of view in the passenger screen, and realize that the ride itself feels just like an ordinary ride from A to B,” says Tan. “This 360° video allows you to get as close to this experience as possible. You’re watching the car self-drive on a real city street, as you ride in the back.”
The company notes that currently it has “the world’s first and only fleet of fully self-driving cars on public roads,” and it has self-driven over five million miles. The company is looking to launch a driverless ride-hailing service in Arizona in the coming months.