Review: Waymo Robotaxis in San Francisco

San Francisco now has both Cruise and Waymo robotaxis operating all over the city. Based on news reports and my own personal experience, I have to say that Waymo seems to be a lot more conservative and careful in its operations.

While not perfect, Waymo has gotten remarkably good at navigating the challenging streets of SF. The compact 7×7 mile size of SF makes it a great fit for robotaxis – empty cars can efficiently crisscross this small area waiting for their next ride, enabling very short pickup times. And after years of driving San Francisco’s streets, Waymo has the tricky terrain down cold.

I’m aware of some hiccups robotaxis have had in SF, but my personal rides have been smooth. Compared to the average human Uber driver, Waymo cars drive more slowly and cautiously. However, based on my unscientific anecdotal experience, Waymo trips today still cost more than Uber.

To make things more concrete, here are two recent examples:

Example 1. This was not a simple route, with left turns and narrow streets. I filmed this while seating in front.

Example 2. This was during light rain conditions. This route involved a lot of narrow and winding streets, through residential areas. I filmed this while seating in the backseat.

Example 3. Waymo After Dark. This route passed through downtown San Francisco on a Wednesday evening. I filmed this while seating in the backseat.

Despite the higher cost, within San Francisco I’ve found Waymo rides to be a viable alternative to Uber in terms of convenience and reliability. I’m grateful to have both services available in the city and will continue using each when they make sense. The progress of robotaxis in just the last year has been remarkable, and I’m excited to see where things go from here.

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[Image from Infogram.]