Google self-driving car team meets with Phoenix-area Bicyclists


Google (now Waymorecently began testing their self-driving car in the metro Phoenix area… Yesterday, representatives from Google met with some members of the Phoenix area bicycling community.

CAzB Leadership and Friends,

This was a fascinating meeting…Where Google is headed with their technology has tremendous potential to save lives and reduce injuries, including bicyclists. Let me try to convey the key points we registered, but first I’ll tell you who attended:

Bicycling Community

·        Bob Beane, CAzB/PMBC

·        Linda Torres (my better half, a cyclist and a good listener)

·        Joe Struttman, Pecos Action Group

Google and related

·        Jennifer Haroon, Leader of Business Operations for the Google Car Project

·        Angie Welling, External Affairs/Public Policy for Google

·        Gerardo Interiano, Google (will be taking over the region including AZ for the project)

·        Rob Nash, Consultant to Google

·        Brian Murray, Consultant to Google

The Goal of the Project

·        The overall goal of the project is to come up with self-driving car technology that is much safer in operation than human-driven vehicles.

·        An ancillary goal is to provide accessibility and mobility to the subset of people who cannot physically or safely drive.

·        In development, to this point, an overriding principle is “conservative driving”…more on that below.

The Technology

·        As expected, despite our repeated probing, Google representatives would not reveal the “Secret Sauce” recipe for how all the technology comes together and how algorithms (or whatever) ultimately make driving decisions, however…

·        Various technologies (camera, radar, lasers, sensors, GPS mapping, etc.) are used in combination to provide data input on everything going on within about 200 yards in all 360 degrees around the vehicle as it operates. The vehicle, with all technology on board (not reliant on an Internet connection), is self-sufficient in capability and can “see” things that human drivers may not be able to see. I did not hear anything specific related to night driving (e.g. no Infrared), but it seems that the car may be even relatively more safe at night.

·        Data is used in multiple ways, including maintaining positioning, monitoring stop lights, identifying moving objects and hazards, collision avoidance, etc.

·        The vehicle also is using data to make predictive projections about speed, direction, etc., of other objects within its field of view, not restricted to the roadway (i.e. any object within the 200 yard circle is literally “on the radar”, whether on the road, on the sidewalk, emerging from a parking lot or driveway, etc.

·        “Machine learning” is being used to “train” vehicles to recognize scenarios, though the Google people repeatedly stated that the response is not a “hard coded” response, but rather somewhat (my term: artificial intelligence) an “educational” addition to possible outcomes…Again, part of the “Secret Sauce”.

·        Known traffic laws (e.g. three foot safe passing distance) are being incorporated into the knowledge base of vehicles, and Google has even patented technology for recognizing bicyclist hand signals.

·        There is redundancy built into the car in case of a tech failure. There is also a protocol for “confusion” or perceived unsafe conditions. If the vehicle becomes immersed in a situation that seems “confusing” it will first slow down and attempt to pull over. If that isn’t possible or there isn’t enough time, it will simply attempt to stop. It does sense both hazards in front and approaching from the rear (in other words, in a rapid stop situation it will try to avoid collisions both with the vehicle in front AND the one behind…how they do this was part of the “Secret Sauce” or something their attorneys don’t want them to discuss).

Other points:

·        As mentioned above, the cars are being designed to drive “conservatively”, including a 1.5 second delayed start at intersections.

·        Having said the above, the cars are also designed to make right turn on red AND they have programmed a “human” factor of inching forward until space is clear specifically to let vehicles behind know that the car is still functioning and “knows” what to do (purely programmed in reaction to behavior of human drivers).

·        There is said to be some prioritization of vulnerable roadway users in collision avoidance, though specifics weren’t provided.

·        The Chandler, AZ, tests will be conducted with trained test drivers on board, however their intervention is expected to be absolutely minimal at this point in the development of the car.

·        Crash data to date: More than 1.5 million miles driven, 19 crashes, most caused by other drivers rear-ending the Google cars.

·        Testing: 3,000,000 miles of simulated driving can be done, DAILY. Data from on-road driving is uploaded and even when drivers take over the car Google can simulate what would have happened if they did not.

·        We saw a very detailed PowerPoint presentation with moving simulations. While those don’t appear to be available on line, there are videos and some good information about the program at .

Please feel free to send any questions. Joe Struttman may have some additional comments, as well.

This briefing and Q & A was well worth the 1.25 hours spent, and the Google folks were definitely taking notes on our questions and concerns. We did mention the Valley’s arterial grid structure with high-speed, multi-lane arterials with shopping/retail (with additional driveways) located near the major arterial intersections…and the fact that serious crashes frequently happen there. They mentioned that they also have “taught” their vehicle to try to avoid being in blind spots. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Bob Beane



Executive Orders

There are two Executive Orders enabling Autonomous vehicle usage and testing in Arizona are both in the shared public folder “collateral”:

for reference, here is the text of:

Executive Order 2018-04

Advancing Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Operating; Prioritizing Public Safety

WHEREAS, Arizona has shown leadership in supporting technology innovations that improve safety and mobility on Arizona roads;
WHEREAS, the business friendly and low regulatory environment has Jed to increased investment and economic development throughout the state;
WHEREAS, the economic growth has been recognized by numerous national publications, including the New York Times that identified Arizona’s growth as a “tech boom;”
WHEREAS, the safety and increased mobility of all citizens is of the utmost concern to the State;
WHEREAS, a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that 94 % of crashes can be tied back to either human error or bad decisions;
WHEREAS, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 37,461 people lost their Lives in traffic crashes in 2016 a 5.6% increase in deaths from 2015;
WHEREAS, those deaths represent the equivalent of one medium-size commercial airliner crashing once a day, Monday through Friday, every week of the year;
WHEREAS, the state of Arizona experienced 962 fatalities in 2016, which represents a 7.3% increase over 2015, and the State strongly believes that is not acceptable for Arizona;
WHEREAS, multiple stakeholders including the National Safety Council, the Foundation for Senior Living, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the Foundation for Blind Children recognize the transformational social and safety benefits that self-driving and fully autonomous vehicles provide;
WHEREAS, the State has become a hub for driverless car research and development with over 600 vehicles with automated driving systems, that have been testing on Arizona public roads for more than two years;
WHEREAS, the State believes that the implementation of fully autonomous vehicles will provide a dramatic increase in pedestrian and passenger safety, reduce traffic and congestion, and improve the movement of residents and commerce across the state; and
WHEREAS, the State requires that any entity that is testing or operating vehicles equipped with an automated driving system will be in full compliance with all the applicable traffic and motor vehicle safety, insurance, accident reporting, and titling and registration laws and regulations of both the Federal Government and the State of Arizona, and that violations will lead to suspension and/or revocation of the permission to test or operate on public roads.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Douglas A. Ducey, Governor of the State of Arizona, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the
Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, hereby order as follows:
1) As used in this order, the following terms have the meanings ascribed below:
a. AUTOMATED DRIVING SYSTEM. The hardware and software that are collectively capable of performing the
entire dynamic driving task on a sustained basis, regardless of whether it is limited to a specific operational design
b. DRIVE. Shall have the meaning ascribed to it in §28-101(21) of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
c. DYNAMIC DRIVING TASK. All of the real-time operational and tactical functions required to operate a vehicle in
on-road traffic, excluding the strategic functions such as trip scheduling and selection of destinations and
waypoints, and including without limitation:
1. Lateral vehicle motion control via steering;
11. Longitudinal motion control via acceleration and deceleration;
111. Monitoring the driving environment via object and event detection, recognition, classification, and response
iv. Object and event response execution;
v. Maneuver planning; and
vi. Enhancing conspicuity via lighting, signaling, and gesturing.
d. FULLY AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE. A motor vehicle that is equipped with an automated driving system designed
to function as a level four or five system under SAE J3016 . Such a vehicle may be designed to function solely by
use of the automated driving system, or when the automated driving system is not engaged, to permit operation by a
human person.
e. MINIMAL RISK CONDITION. A low-risk operating mode in which a fully autonomous vehicle operating without
a human person achieves a reasonably safe state, such as bringing the vehicle to a complete stop, upon experiencing
a failure of the vehicle’s automated driving system that renders the vehicle unable to perform the entire dynamic
driving task.
f. OPERATIONAL DESIGN DOMAIN. A description of the specific operating domain(s) in which an automated
driving system is designed to properly operate, including but not limited to roadway types, speed range,
environmental conditions (weather, daytime/nighttime, etc.), and other domain constraints.
g. PERSON. Shall have the meaning ascribed to it in § 1-215(28) of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
h. SAE J3016. The Taxonomy and Definitions/or Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems/or On-Road Motor
Vehicles published by SAE International in September 2016.

2) Testing or operation of self-driving vehicles equipped with an automated driving system on public roads with, or without, a person present in the vehicle are required to follow all federal laws, Arizona State Statutes, Title 28 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, all regulations and policies set forth by the Arizona Department of Transportation, and this Order.
3) Testing or operation of vehicles on public roads that do not have a person present in the vehicle shall be allowed only if such vehicles are fully autonomous, provided that a person prior to commencing testing or operation of fully autonomous vehicles, has submitted a written statement to the Arizona Department of Transportation, or if already begun, has submitted a statement to the Arizona Department of Transportation within 60 days of the issuance of this Order acknowledging that:
a. Unless an exemption or waiver has been granted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fully
autonomous vehicle is equipped with an automated driving system that is in compliance with all applicable federal
law and federal motor vehicle safety standards and bears the required certification label(s) including reference to any
exemption granted under applicable federal law;
b. If a failure of the automated driving system occurs that renders that system unable to perform the entire dynamic
driving task relevant to its intended operational design domain , the fully autonomous vehicle will achieve a minimal
risk condition;
c. The fully autonomous vehicle is capable of complying with all applicable traffic and motor vehicle safety laws and
regulations of the State of Arizona, and the person testing or operating the fully autonomous vehicle may be issued a
traffic citation or other applicable penalty in the event the vehicle fails to comply with traffic and/or motor vehicle
laws; and
d. The fully autonomous vehicle meets all applicable certificate, title registration, licensing and insurance

4) If a person fails to submit the required statement outlined in Section 3 of the Order, the Director of Arizona Department of Transportation has the authority to immediately issue a cease and desist letter revoking any permissions to operate a fully autonomous vehicle on Arizona’s public roads, until the person has submitted the statement and is in compliance with laws and regulations relating to fully autonomous vehicles.
5) The automated driving system of a fully autonomous vehicle and the person required to submit a statement to the Arizona Department of Transportation Under Section 3 of this order shall be subject to all applicable laws, rules, ordinances, and statutes, and will be considered to be licensed to operate the vehicle for the purposes of Title 28 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
6) The Arizona Department of Transportation, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and all other agencies of the State of Arizona with pertinent regulatory jurisdiction shall take the necessary steps to support the testing and operation of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads within Arizona. These actions shall include:
a. The Arizona Department of Public Safety, in coordination with other relevant law enforcement agencies, shall issue
a law enforcement interaction protocol addressing fully autonomous vehicles. The protocol shall include, but is not
limited to, information educating relevant law enforcement agencies and other first responders on how to interact
with fully autonomous vehicles in emergency and traffic enforcement situations, contact information for insurance
and citation purposes, and any other information needed to ensure the safe operation of fully autonomous vehicles in
1. Each person conducting testing or operation of fully autonomous vehicles on the public roads of Arizona
shall work with the Arizona Department of Public Safety to assist in the development of the protocol. The
agreed upon protocol shall address how fully autonomous vehicles behave in the event of an accident and
in accordance with the applicable requirements in Chapter 3 Article 4 of Title 28 of the Arizona Revised
11. A person that has already begun testing or operation of fully autonomous vehicles shall submit to the
Arizona Department of Public Safety a statement acknowledging that such a person has implemented a plan
consistent with the protocol within 60 days of its issuance.
HI. Any person that begins testing or operations after that 60 day period shall submit to the Arizona
Department of Public Safety a statement acknowledging that it meets the protocol prior to such testing or

b. Prior to issuance of the law enforcement interaction protocol, testing or operation of fully autonomous vehicles, with
or without a person, may be conducted on the public roads of Arizona, consistent with the provisions of this Order.
c. The Arizona Department of Transportation and Arizona Department of Public Safety shall complete a review and
provide a report of relevant regulations describing which provisions may no longer be necessary for, are inapplicable
to, or should be updated, with regard to their application to fully autonomous vehicles, consistent with this Order.
d. The Arizona Department of Transportation shall undertake a review of current title and registration policies and
procedures and make recommendations to ensure law enforcement and the general public has the necessary pertinent
vehicle information in the event of a collision with a fully autonomous vehicle.

7) Nothing in this order establishes a right to operate an autonomous vehicle in Arizona or obtain or possess approval,
permissions, license, certification or registration related to autonomous vehicles.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand caused to be affixed
DONE at the Capitol in Phoenix on this First day of March in the Year Two Thousand and Eighteen and of the Independence of the United States of America the Two Hundred and Thirty-Sixth.
ATTEST: Secretary of State


A waymo operating in self-driving mode was involved in a crash May 2018 wb on Chandler Blvd approaching the intersection of Los Feliz (a signalized intersection just west of McClintock). Here’s video of the out-of-control driver that swerved, crossed over a raised median, and struck the Waymo vehicle.




3 Responses to “Google self-driving car team meets with Phoenix-area Bicyclists”
  1. Ed B says:

    Gov. Doug Ducey announced the formation of a Self-Driving Oversight Committee by Executive Order 2015-09.
    A couple of excerpts:

    WHEREAS, the State has the view that the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles could produce transformational social benefits such as the elimination of traffic and congestion, a dramatic increase in pedestrian and passenger safety, the reduction of parking facilities, and the facilitation of movement of residents across the State, and could beneficially contribute to other activities related to the State’s transportation; and

    WHEREAS, the State has a shared vision that the future of transportation and commerce relies on innovative technologies that could result in more passenger and pedestrian safety, increase mobility options, and foster economic productivity.
    . . .
    (5) There shall be established within the Office of the Governor a Self-Driving Vehicle Oversight Committee
    . . .
    the Committee may, based upon the results of the pilot programs, propose clarifications or changes to State policies, rules or statutes to facilitate the expanded operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads in Arizona.

  2. Ed B says:

    Google’s robot cars recognize cyclists’ hand signals — better than most cyclists

    Google’s report read. “Whether the road is too narrow or they’re making a turn, we respect this indication that cyclists want to claim their lane.”

  3. admin says:

    Three crashes so far with Google self-driving cars in Chandler.
    (there were 3 crashes during August 2016 involving the unspecified number of google cars…)

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