The future of transportation is sitting in a garage, waiting. Waymo (spun off from Google in 2016) self-driving cars will soon be unavoidable, zipping around at exactly the speed limit on roads all over the world. But on a quiet night, you can get a peek at these four-wheeled robots. Before they get a peek at you.
At first glance, there’s not a whole lot going on in Mountain View at night. A bar scene, a multiplex cinema, and thousands of homes in some iteration of Netflix and/or chill. But the 22nd century may just be hanging out, lurking just off a mundane public street. The self-driving cars are here. Humming. Waiting.
Until we eventually accept our robotic overlords, there is going to be something a bit eerie about self-driving cars. The tinted windows, the panopticon camera, and the fact that they’re always so darn clean make them stick out in Silicon Valley’s suburban streets. But what’s really weird is when two dozen of them are huddled together. It is nearly impossible not to ascribe some human agency to them.
It’s rare to see a self-driving car sitting still and not, well, self-driving. Very few non-engineers ever get the chance to meditate on what an autonomous Lexus looks like and what it might mean for society. But the garage is well-lit and perhaps warm. It seems to act like a sort of incubator. The future is in there, ready to be set free. On a quiet night, you can get a glimpse of the future first.
Update: Waymo was spun off from Google in December 2016 as a separate self-driving car company under Google’s holding company, Alphabet.
Know Before You Go
Biking's probably the easiest, especially if you park your car at the nearby cineplex.