Here’s How to Know When Driverless Cars Are Here

OK, I'll buy one. But please, not a minivan. Anything but a minivan.Andrej Sokolow/DPA via ZUMA

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Here’s some genuinely interesting news about self-driving cars:

Alphabet’s Waymo announced Wednesday that it will begin a pilot program with Walmart to shuttle customers to and from stores to pick up their groceries. The new initiative is part of a series of partnerships with companies to offer customers self-driving cars to run errands and shop. Customers in Phoenix who order groceries on Walmart.com, will receive savings on their goods, and as their orders are put together at the store, autonomous Waymo vehicles will take customers to and from Walmart.

This is interesting for a few reasons:

  • It’s Waymo, not Tesla or Uber or Apple. As near as I can tell, Waymo is leagues ahead of any other company in this field.
  • It’s a nice, easy pilot program. Waymo isn’t creating a driverless taxi program or anything like that. Their cars need to know how to go from a suburban address to the nearest Walmart store, and that’s it.

Right now, the only autonomous car company I care about is Waymo. Their testing seems to be far, far beyond any other company. Their technology is far more advanced than any other company. And yet they keep a low profile, continuing their testing in the real world and not killing anyone in the process. This grocery app is a perfect small-scale app for them that’s easy to set up and easy to debug, but that provides a genuine service for seniors or teens or the disabled. If it works, it will slowly expand into other applications.

Ignore everyone else. Waymo is the leading edge of driverless cars no matter how loud and brassy the other guys are. Once they start doing real-world stuff like this, it means they’re truly not far from honest-to-god driverless cars that can do anything.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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