This is a Waymo car. They’re part of Google’s project making self-driving cars. They’re fairly cmon on the street we live on here in Palo Alto. Google’s complex is only a town over from us, and I assume that’s where they come from. It’s an intriguing concept, but not one I know much about. But I do know that the cars are very quiet, making only low electronic hums instead of the old standby engine roar.
Now, I would like to narrate my experience about half an hour ago.
Picture, me, Paul standing in my front yard in flip flops. In March. Already sorta unusual where we come from. Picture me pulling some large garbage and recycling and yes waste bins across the yard towards the curb for pickup. At 11 pm. It’s quiet. Dark. Kinda chilly. The intersection is deserted, which is a rare sight during the days.
I’m pulling a heavy bin across the yard, and all of a sudden I hear a low whirring electric hum. I whirl around and there is a lone Waymo, with its light on top. Stopped at the stoplight in front of our house. I took in the sight, not that uncommon, figuring they can probably do more testing at night with less traffic.
I walked back to where the bins were and began tugging another across the lawn. In my flip flops. In March, at 11 pm. I neared the curb, with my back to the street, and stopped. I heard another hushed, low whirring mechanical sound. I whirled around again, this time convinced I had to be lost on the set for the new Blade Runner remake. Or at least some other Sci Fi world.
There, pulling up next to the first Waymo car, still waiting at the stoplight, is a Second. Waymo. Car! Both are driving themselves, with passengers.boyh have their little dome lights on top.
The light then changed, and both cars drove through the four way intersection, one turning left, the second going straight. Both making that whirring, humming noise. I stared, and minutes later the intersection was filled with regular, human cars waiting for the lights.
But for that brief space in time, amidst those dim lights, dark night, and whirring hums, I was taken to another world.