Amir Efrati of The Information has an interesting piece on Waymo robotaxi customer satisfaction (or lack thereof). The article highlights existing services (Uber, Lyft) as a key benchmark for automated vehicles, and suggests that the comparison is currently unfavourable:

“Waymo rides received five-star ratings for 62.6% of 2,498 rides it completed in the first 10 weeks of the year… By comparison, as of 2017, users of Lyft’s ride-hailing service gave a five-star rating in about 94% of rides”.

I am not sure this comparison is a perfect one. When rating my Uber rides, five stars is my default. That is sadly not because I anticipate a blissful ride every time I ride with Uber, but because I am aware of the importance of a driver’s average score to their continued employment, and maybe livelihood, thanks to Uber’s policies and algorithms. I am therefore willing to put up with a swerve or two (or three), and still select a five star rating. I know I am rating the driver, not just the ride.

I am sure I am not alone in this. I expect that a lot of the riders in Waymo’s automated vehicles had a lower “default” score in their minds, once you took the humanity out of the car.

That being said, the article also highlights some specific customer feedback. My favourite: Jan. 16 “Mr toad’s wild ride! Go left then right then right then left then left the to far then not far enough……”

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