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The Future is Female: Women Thought Leaders & Innovators in Autonomous Driving

30 de marzo de 2022

Female next to Waymo

From making space missions possible to improving safety right here on Earth, significant milestones in transportation and safety have been led by or enabled by women.

Autonomous driving is no exception. Women are leading innovations and conversations around this technology with potential to bring a new mobility option for moving people and goods while improving road safety.

Women are leading fully autonomous driving companies, helping develop fully autonomous trucks, and leading conversations around fully autonomous vehicles and safety. As part of Waymo’s Trusted Tester program in San Francisco, women have been among the first volunteers to ride in Waymo’s autonomously driven vehicles there and contribute valuable feedback that will help shape the technology. Here are just a few examples of thought leaders in autonomous driving.

Mapping New Territory in the C-suite

Tekedra Mawakana is the co-CEO of autonomous driving company Waymo and has been highlighted as one of the top women driving mobility. As co-CEO, Mawakana is responsible for making key decisions about the direction the company is going to take and forging new territory in transportation history.

Mawakana is a national leader in helping the public understand fully autonomous driving at a time when many people have little or no exposure to this promising new technology. She explained Waymo’s approach to innovation at the 2021 Code Conference, sharing that Waymo is focused on constantly improving the technology, unlocking new business models to deploy it, and changing the status quo when it comes to road safety. Nearly 40,000 people die in traffic crashes every year on US roads, many of them preventable. 

Under Mawakana’s leadership, Waymo has focused on including many different communities in the autonomous driving conversation, including people with disabilities and community leaders who have historically experienced transportation inequities, such as greater traffic fatalities and disparate access to mobility options. 

Women at the Forefront of Autonomous Trucking 

Trucking is typically thought of as a male-dominated industry, and most truck drivers are men. However, many women are leading in the autonomous trucking space.

Steph John, a program manager for Waymo’s trucking program Waymo Via, said the autonomous driving industry is creating career opportunities for women. “I see us (women) really pushing the industry forward as we continue to advance this technology,” John told ABC15 Arizona.

John is helping the public understand how autonomous trucking can help safely and efficiently move goods to the people who need them most. She has also emphasized how Waymo’s trucking technology could make trucking safer, as it is designed to be constantly vigilant and follow traffic laws.

Women truck drivers have also made the move to working on autonomous trucking with Waymo Via. In this new industry, they aren’t called drivers – remember that autonomous driving technology carries out all the tasks of a human driver – but rather called autonomous specialists.

Read common questions and answers and learn more about women making history in autonomous trucking in the role of autonomous trucking specialist, product manager, recruiting lead, and senior program manager.

Shaping the Safety of Autonomous Driving

Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, is driving the conversation around how to ensure children are safe, including in and around vehicles, whether they are passengers, pedestrians or cyclists. 

Under Creppy’s leadership, Safe Kids Worldwide – through its road safety program – is looking at every aspect of child safety and vehicles, including use of seat belts, overall traffic safety, and new technologies, such as autonomous driving technology.

Creppy told Let’s Talk Autonomous Driving that she believes autonomous driving technology could help save children’s lives on the road. She also said she hopes the public will have a clear understanding of the promises and limits of the technology, and that the technology will be developed and continually improved to keep children’s unique safety needs in mind.

Waymo does not allow riders under the age of 18 to ride with Waymo One unaccompanied by an adult, a policy Creppy said she supports.

“The future of transportation is clearly automated vehicles, so as an organization, Safe Kids is very intentional about being forward-looking and laser focused on this new technology,” Creppy told Let’s Talk Autonomous Driving.

As autonomous driving moves into the future, these thought leaders and innovators in this space are yet another reminder that the future is female. 

Read More:

Child Safety Advocates Point to Need for conversation, Awareness Around Autonomous Driving Technology

Women Who Drive Mobility

Female Leaders in Mobility Join Inaugural Self-Driven Women Event

Women on the Long Haul of Waymo via Trucking