Skip to content
Businessweek
Technology

Waymo Is 99% of the Way to Self-Driving Cars. The Last 1% Is the Hardest

The world’s most famous autonomous car shop has lost its CEO and is still getting stymied by traffic cones. What’s taking so long?

relates to Waymo Is 99% of the Way to Self-Driving Cars. The Last 1% Is the Hardest
Photographer: Illustration by Jackie Ferrentino
Corrected
From

Joel Johnson laughs nervously from the backseat when his self-driving taxi stops in the middle of a busy road in suburban Phoenix. The car, operated by autonomous vehicle pioneer Waymo, has encountered a row of traffic cones in a construction zone, and won’t move. “Go around, man,” Johnson says as he gestures to the drivers honking behind him.

After the vehicle has spent 14 mostly motionless minutes obstructing traffic, a Waymo technician tries to approach—but the car unexpectedly rolls forward, away from him. “It definitely seemed like a dangerous situation,” Johnson recalls.