The future is here and will soon be delivering groceries. Multinational retail chain Walmart has partnered with Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project, to test a pilot program that will allow people to pick up their groceries using an autonomous vehicle. The pilot, which is rolling out in Phoenix, AZ, will allow “early riders” to use a driverless shuttle service to and from Walmart to pick up their groceries whenever they use Walmart’s online grocery pickup service. The program is part of Walmart’s grocery pickup program, where customers complete an online order and pay for their purchases and personal shoppers shop for the items and deliver them out to the customers’ vehicle – in this case, a Waymo driverless car.
Participants in the program will be not be charged a transportation fee; instead, the Early Riders Program is seeking feedback from users that will be used to help shape the future of how driverless vehicle services will work. Only one person per household will need to apply. Once accepted, everyone in the family can participate.
Waymo claims that their vehicles have driven over 8 million miles to date, with more than 25,000 autonomous miles each week. They have equipped various types of vehicles with autonomous equipment, including:
• Toyota Prius
• Audi TT
• Chrysler Pacifica
• Lexus RX450h.
Waymo’s autonomous vehicles have about $150,000 in specialized equipment installed in them. One of the most expensive pieces of equipment used by driverless cars is the LIDAR system, which costs $70,000. LIDAR is surveying equipment that measures the distance to a target from the vehicle using pulsed laser lights and a sensor system.
Waymo’s vehicles also use a rangefinder that is mounted on top of the vehicle that generates a detailed 3D map of the environment in which it is located. The car then uses the generated maps to produce data models that allow it to drive. The autonomous car system includes an override that allows a driver to take control of the vehicle by stepping on the brake or operating the wheel.
Even though autonomous vehicles have an impressive safety record, there have been crashes that can be attributed to the driverless automobile. Causes of crashes include human drivers rear-ending slow or stopped driverless cars, the design of the vehicle itself, and sensor reading errors. To date, there have been 14 minor collisions involving autonomous vehicles. In the U.S., there have been 2 driver fatalities and 1 pedestrian fatality involving a driverless vehicle. Driverless car insurance implications in these circumstances are still being refined, which will continue for many years to come.
No matter what the future holds, you can count on Lanier Upshaw to protect your home, family, vehicles and business. Contact us today to learn about our innovative insurance solutions.