HANDLER, Ariz. — At a time when the idea of self-driving vehicles has barely left the pages of science fiction in the minds of many consumers, Damian Nichols has already made them a fixture in his everyday life.
Nichols, a married father of three, lives in the Phoenix suburbs, where he works in information technology for a local school district. Over the past two years, few consumers — and maybe none — have more experience riding in self-driving vehicles. He's lost count of the number of rides he's taken.
"Oh gosh, I don't know," he said. "Hundreds."
Nichols has been a seasoned participant, first in the early-rider program run as part of Waymo's testing in the area, and now in the company's commercial descendant, the ride-hailing service called Waymo One. In the course of his everyday travels, he's enjoyed a bird's-eye view on the evolution of the company's self-driving technology.