Waymo’s Mawakana on Autonomous Driving
I think we have a survey question coming up. And like am I right about that. I'm gonna start me. All right. So the question some self-driving cars ready to ride or not there yet. So we have a lot of pessimists who responded to this to this to this survey on Twitter. Curious in the audience raise your hand if you've had a ride in a in a fully autonomous vehicle thus far. OK ok. Pretty good.
The experts say that more than 33 million a visa will be sold globally in 2040. So they disagree with the pessimists out there. And that the autonomous car market is expected to reach 76 billion dollars by 2027. That's by one estimate. T.J. I'm so glad you're here. We see the cars everywhere. We're all waiting to see when you know when we're going to be able to get in them when we're gonna be able to get passenger rides the way the way you can in Phoenix right now. In Whammo in Phoenix is now providing rides for people in rider only cars. So it's
taking off right here in San Francisco. What's happening on a much more limited basis. It's much more experimental. Can you tell us about kind of where you are with San Francisco and maybe for those who are impatient to get in there and at least try it out. What. How long before we're going to see the testing kind of go much much more broad. Yes. Thank you. Thank you for the question. So thanks for taking the survey because it's very consistent with what we know which is it's difficult for people to be excited about that which they've never experienced and especially in the case of technology and especially in the case of technology that's designed to improve road safety when although our roads aren't safe we're very comfortable with the degree of UN safety. Right. We're just agnostic to it. So for women one which is our service which is what we call our ride hailing service which we have launched in Phoenix Arizona and we've then for over two years now offering members of the public rides you use the way my lap and you have a ride and it takes you from point A to point B and it shows up completely empty.
And that experience is quite magical. And so if anybody's in the Phoenix area and once that experience it's open to the public. It's 24 hours a day. It's a commercialized service. What that's taught us is what are the core components of actually rolling out this service. And this gets to your question about San Francisco. Well you have to bring the public along with you which is why I love that survey question because you need people who are both interested in being in the car and skeptical about the technology community members as well as regular regulators and policy makers to understand what's happening in their community alongside their schools their streets their homes. And so one of the ways we've decided to approach cities is with this playbook of being very deliberate and very interactive engaging community members making sure there's an opportunity for people to apply which is what's happened in San Francisco. We have tens of thousands of people who've applied to be trusted testers. We
launched that last August. If a lot of people waiting for the opportunity despite what the Israelis say get it. Exactly. And it's so that we can have the opportunity to receive feedback and make the product better because I think with autonomous vehicle technology we spend so much time talking about the technology which is great because it's important. And I actually think it's that challenge of our generation to get this right. On the other hand the reason someone pays to be a customer of an autonomous ride hailing service is because the service is useful. It's delightful. It actually takes you safely from point
A to point B meeting your needs and offering you a space that's consistent and clean and private. And so those are the elements that we really think about. And so in San Francisco we have trusted testers that are in cars that have our autonomous specialists still behind the wheel. And then we have what we refer to as writer only cars that our employees are now taking rides in. That's like Phoenix. And the reason we do that is because there is no one harder on ourselves than our employees
are women. Right. Like we have very high expectations of what the way my driver should be able to do. We've also expanded to downtown Phoenix where we're using the same fifth generation way. My driver that's here in San Francisco. And we have employees taking rides there and writer only. And we're starting trusted tester. Based on what you've learned or are learning in Phoenix what you're learning in San Francisco if you could go. Anywhere what would be the next places where you would like to at least rule out testing. And I'm I'm obviously assuming that
you cross all the T's and dot all the I's that you need to with local and state regulators. Where regionally would you like to go next. Everywhere. Everywhere. If we assume regulatory certainty and technology is there everywhere and this is really a technology that should be deployed everywhere people and goods need to move. That's our mission.
And one of the reasons we're focused on not only being multi geo which is what I just described but also but also multiplatform. And so we have the all electric Jaguar spaces and that's what's here in the city as well as downtown Phoenix. And then we have our Class 8 Daimler trucks and that's where the way driver is also deployed. So we're really focused on once you have a driver
and it can drive and it's generalizable across different vehicle platforms and then it's able to meet the use cases of the business model which is ride hailing trucking and local delivery. Then the question is where do you go next. I mean that's an exciting commercialization opportunity. I'm obviously not going to say what our roadmap plan is. And I hear I hear your question in that and I appreciate it. But really the answer is you go where the demand is depending on
demand. Yeah. So you talked about safety. Safety advocates say you shouldn't even be testing this stuff on roads. Given what the math tells us about the safety of driverless vehicles versus. Vehicles that are driven by people who make a lot of mistakes why do you think that message is not getting across. And what do you have to do to better communicate that in D.C. and elsewhere. Yeah I think it's what I said in the beginning. I think we don't experience road fatalities as mass casualties. We don't experience the 40
thousand at once. And we don't even experience what would be sort of seven hundred a day globally. Right. We don't have planes just falling out of the sky every day killing everyone. And if we did we would feel differently about the state of our roads. We'd feel differently about whoever it was that gave me my driver's license at 16. I mean I did not I mean I was an a student my whole life and barely passed that exam. Right. And then they're like here you go. And there we were you know
driving everywhere. And so the reality is that the way my driver has driven across 25 cities has driven over 20 million miles autonomously on public roads over 20 billion miles in simulation having every type of scenario injected into the simulator that you can imagine that happens on the real roads. And yet and still people are like I don't have that safe you know but I know my 16 year old is ready to go tackle the roller world. And so there is this
like cognitive dissonance that we experience. And that's not even getting into if we're drunk if we're tired or distracted and if we're angry all things the way my driver never is. I think the reason that it's a really challenging space to move sit let's say the safety advocates or the skeptics is one it's not technology that can get to perfection in a lab. It has to happen on public roads. And so now we're having a discussion about value exchange. Right. Like how safe are we going to make sure we're being. Which is why we've published our safety assessment framework. We've published some of our crash data. We want to make sure that people understand that we recognize this is a value exchange. If you can make our roads safer if you can
get my kid to soccer practice back to the cheerleading squad and home that is real value in my life. And all of a sudden I feel very differently about whether or not I want her with her you know six friends distracted on their cell phones and in their cars. And I think we just haven't ever had this kind of really exciting transition take place where you can bring the value exchange where in the early days of being able to demonstrate it. But we're definitely seeing that we've been able to demonstrate it in Arizona was has been such a great place to do that because there were no shortage of skeptics when we showed up there. To the extent that you are able to spend time in D.C. with R R R officials there you have you been able to get through to the Biden administration to get through to Pete to judge. And if so what is the vibe that you're getting. What is that. How receptive is this administration. I think this administration. And generally speaking Democrats or Republicans both want to see
this technology advance. Our team works with every level of government. And what we haven't seen which may be sort of at the heart of your question is an appetite or opportunity to advance a regulatory framework that says this means go this means stop. And certainly that's what safety advocates and others would love to see. That's complicated. And one of the things if you're talking about how best to regulate safety critical technology if you go too early you're going to use the sort of lowest common denominator. And it's gonna be a race to the bottom. And so there are things we would have advocated for. Just not knowing
what we know now four years ago that we now know would have been like sort of a hurdle that we could easily cross. So we've actually been quite cautious about trying to push. There's a sort of a permissive framework right now at the federal level. And we were the first company to submit a safety report. We think that's important. We think if you're gonna have these cars
on the road if you believe in your technology you should be willing to sort of disclose what you're doing and why you're doing it and how you're doing it. And then we think sort of a safety case based approach is probably the right approach for some time to come because everyone's technologies are different. And so it's not like you can really come up with a single standard because maybe you could do a workaround to a standard. And so I think just being smart and commonsensical the secretary put a judge in his sort of just in this early time being here is already focused on how to advance savings. And our team in D.C. works directly with his office. I want to talk a little bit about Visa for just a minute. This is your commercial goods delivery. In fact just this week you announced a partnership with Uber erstwhile. Less than less than friend.
We just had DA on stage and we talked a little bit about it with him as well. You've got testing going on across the southwest including California. Do you have plans for that too for those commercial kinds of delivery agreements to roll out across the nation wide. And then
how big do you see this being in terms of your business. Because I think I thought of it traditionally thought and whammo is passengers and consumer facing. But every other week it seems like there's another announcement about a commercial partnership. So where does that go and how big of a part of your business is that become. Yes. You know like what gives. So right. Handling is certainly are sort of has been our primary focus our secondary focus. And I say that because obviously prioritization is so important. When you're building the driver like which vehicle platform a building the driver sort of work
on first and then second. And so classic trucking is where we're laser focused. Next the deal with Uber freights exciting because it gives us a chance to connect the way my driver to their network Uber Freight Network which is great the way our business model and trucking works. We have partnerships as you said with Peter Robinson and J.B. Hunt and others. It's we're working with the shippers and the carriers. And then they will actually have trucks that will have the way my driver on them. There's over 300 billion miles driven today in the US alone commercially. And so that's the way to think about how we think
about this opportunity. We think it's big. We think it's meaningful. We think not only can we bring more safety to it but also more efficiencies and cost savings. When you were appointed CEO just about a year ago alongside dot gov you talked about your wanting to work alongside employees to build deploying commercialize the business. Where are you in that effort how. You know kind of. How would you assess your progress thus far in living up to the goals that you set for yourself. So I'm going to answer sort of personally and then I'll answer
for the company. I mean I think personally it's important to be constructively dissatisfied. Right. I think that there's always more to be done. This has been a really hard time to be a leader in Covid hiring people expanding the team driving culture. Hitting milestones. Raising money like it's complex. And so I'd say for me I'm constructively dissatisfied with the way in which all of those factors have come together. That said I feel amazing about the company. I feel amazing about the milestones.
We feel amazing about the people we've hired. I think we have the most talented team out. There are specific milestones that we set forth. We've hit them and that's really important. I want to come back to the question of safety for just a moment. Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It's been a few years now. Indicated the problems that autonomous vehicles have in detecting pedestrians or they're much better at detecting pedestrians with lighter skin tones. We spent a lot of time
today talking about A.I. and bias. And I want to hear from you how your engineers are working to tackle that problem. Make sure that the that the light car and the other sensors on your cars are able to pick up. Everybody not just. The white folks. Yeah. Obviously a really really important question and issue and I remember a couple of years ago when the issue first came up I wasn't in this role and I sort of took that very question straight to the engineering team.
I got the answer and then I got the validation to the answer. So the answer was we can pick it all up our sort of technology or when we're driver has the ability to see in the dark of night in the in the broad day shades of every color people non people objects not objects teeny tiny objects down to a millimeter next to our tires in order. That's how the system is designed to see up to three football fields 360 degrees. And then we also did testing to validate that because it's really important that we make sure we're not building technology for some versus for all and also with safety at the center of what we're doing. We just can't afford to have that kind of misstep. That's it's avoidable.
And do you feel like they're making progress on you that mandate. Oh absolutely. It already works that way for us. I mean I think some of what you're talking about were technology that didn't work that way. And I don't know I don't know if they're making progress or not but I know for us at that time that issue came up it's not been an issue. You raised 2.5 billion last year from not just your parent alphabet but a whole host of other investors. And then the year before that was the first time you went to outside investors. Do you see that pattern continuing of broadening your the equity investor base beyond the parent. And how long do you think it is
before you will need to go out and raise again. I we have really world class investors on our cap table like you said including our parent alphabet. We raise five point seven billion dollars over the last two years. I won't say when we'll go back out but I will say that we're deeply aligned that this technology has massive massive transformative opportunity and feel great support from all of our investors. Do you anticipate. Full independence from Alphabet at one point. I love those words anticipate at one point. I mean I told you I think being constructively dissatisfied is important. And so what I will say to you is we have to execute and we're doing that and we're laser focused on doing that. And I think the
reason I talked about being constructively dissatisfied is because I want us to stay focused on executing. There's so much to be done to make sure that the roads actually get safe and to make sure that this technology actually scales and deploys. And when we do that I am certain that all interests will be aligned. How concerned are you about this. I know you can't talk about when you will do it but given we
haven't where we are with the markets how concerned are you about the state of the capital markets right now and the valuations that we're seeing ascribed to startups and the biggest companies alike including including Alphabet. Yeah I'm feeling great. I mean I think we it's very rare to have the opportunity to be owned by alphabet supported by them. All of these years have a cap table of world class investors and have a very clear articulated vision mission opportunity tan product and commercialization strategy. And I think all of those are opportunities to sort of tackle. And thankfully it hasn't ridden a lot on the frothing ness of the market. It's barely been riding on our execution and our strategy. How comfortable are you with the pace of hiring that you've been doing. Are you having to slow that down. And do you envision we've had a lot of
companies that have said not only are we going to tap the brakes on hiring but we're actually going to retrench in certain areas. Where are you in your hiring plans. Yeah. Where we've been hiring a lot. And we're continuing to hire a lot of. This takes a lot of talent to bring this technology to market takes a lot of talent. We haven't slowed down on hiring for any reason outside of our company. We've slowed down because we did a lot of hiring in Covid and now we need to either in our hybrid work place sort of make sure that everything is clicking the way that we want it to and then continue to hire. But Mo is hiring Sara. If anybody's looking and please go on the careers page because we are hiring. And if and are you having to make changes in terms of your compensation scale. Just you know we've seen it
again with a lot of the big publicly traded companies as well as the startups. Just because you don't know equity isn't as attractive of a lure for engineers out there who are looking for you know looking for that as an incentive. Yeah I think there's two attributes that I would say for the folks who come to weigh em out. One is they tend to be really excited about the mission. They can kind of do anything with their skills but this is the thing they actually want to do in their lifetime. So that's
wonderful. And then secondly I think we've been private. There's no liquidity. Either you believe in the upside or don't which ties to the first point. And so we haven't seen that at all in our recruiting. We still see people who come want to be there who come to us want to be at Lambeau. And they've been in a lot of other places where there was a lot of liquidity and a lot of opportunity. And now they want to do something really meaningful. To Hydra. Nice to talk to you. Thanks for coming. Thank you.