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There's good news and bad news about driverless cars.
The good news is that Waymo is about to launch an autonomous taxi service in Phoenix. That's also the bad news.
Critics are worried the technology is not ready for public consumption. They just don't see the good news -- they won't have to tip the drivers.
Good News -- Some Progress
Waymo is not the first to put a driverless car on the road. Test vehicles have been scooting around towns and cities across America for a while.
Autonomous cars and busses have been operating in Massachusetts, Nevada, and Arizona for at least a year. Uber tried it in California, until locals drummed them out.
Congress, in the meantime, is considering legislation to make it easier for companies to manufacture driverless vehicles. GM, for one, wants to make cars without steering wheels next year.
Sci-forrific as it may sound, this is progress. Waymo is banking on it. Before Christmas.
Bad News -- Little Regulation
Besides a fear of tons of metal hurtling down highways without a driver, opponents can't deal with the lack of regulation.
Mary Cummings, an engineering professor at Duke University, told Ars Technica that autonomous vehicles don't belong on the road. They belong on test tracks.
"I think it's unconscionable that no one is stipulating that testing needs to be done before they're put on the road," she said.
Cathy Chase, who heads the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, can't believe driverless taxis are about to hit the streets in Arizona. "I think it's stunning," she said.
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