In the heart of Downtown Tempe, on the sprawling campus of Arizona State University (ASU), lies a state-of-the-art residence for seniors with a commitment to lifelong learning. Designed to reap the benefits of proximity to a vibrant college campus, Mirabella, a 65 and over senior living facility, connects its residents with dynamic learning, social and education opportunities
Each week, residents can expect new, culturally rich experiences, from theater performances to lectures by ASU professors. There’s always something new on the horizon at Mirabella.
When 14 residents were offered the opportunity to ride in Waymo’s fully autonomous vehicles, they took it. One resident, Drina Krimm wasn’t sure what to expect before her ride. "I had to be talked into going,” said Drina. “I don’t like driving or being in a car very much… but I felt perfectly safe. I was more surprised than anybody."
I don’t like driving or being in a car very much… but I felt perfectly safe. I was more surprised than anybody.
None of the residents had ridden in an autonomously driven vehicle before, but the experience sparked new ideas about what’s possible in the world – from road safety to senior mobility and independence.
But first, it was up to Waymo’s autonomous driving technology to win them over.
Dave Mills, who loves new technology, took his first autonomous ride with Waymo One from the Tempe Public Library to the grocery store following one of Mirabella’s weekly lectures.
“There was nobody else in the car,” said Dave, who after adjusting to the empty driver’s seat, snapped a photo and sent it to his family. “[My grandson] was wowed.”
Dave said he was also impressed with Waymo’s technology, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art suite of sensors and AI compute system, designed to be constantly vigilant, follow road rules, identify road features, identify and differentiate other road users, and even anticipate what they might do next.
“It probably saw things faster than I saw them,” Dave recalls.
Drina Krimm, also a Mirabella resident, said she was nervous before the ride, but was soon convinced the technology was perfectly safe when she saw it in action.
“It drove better than I can drive,” she says, adding that Waymo stopped at appropriate times, went over bumps slowly, and anticipated what it should do next around other road users.
“In one instance, a bicycle rider almost cut us off and it stopped quickly,” Drina says.
Sheila Zieglowsky, who is proud to be Mirabella’s first official resident, recalls she felt comfortable throughout the ride, and sees how it could benefit seniors who do not drive.
“I was impressed with the ride because it felt so safe and secure,” Sheila shares. “I have friends here who are blind, so having something like Waymo is amazing.”
I was impressed with the ride because it felt so safe and secure. I have friends here who are blind, so having something like Waymo is amazing.
Drina says she appreciates how Waymo could also benefit people who still have the ability to drive, yet simply don’t want to. People like her.
“Driving makes me nervous,” Drina says. “I am capable, but I would rather somebody else drive.”
Another Mirabella resident, the animated Robert Stone, says he also enjoyed his Waymo ride.
“I am 83 and I was so comfortable riding in that car,” Robert says. “I would like to ride in it more often.”
I am 83 and I was so comfortable riding in that car. I would like to ride in it more often.
Robert says he was impressed with Waymo’s “personality” and driving style, which struck him as courteous and conscientious.
“We were behind a public bus and the bus stopped before the intersection into a shopping center,” Robert explains, adding that Waymo stopped so as not to block the intersection. “Waymo was polite.”
All the Mirabella residents who rode with Waymo say they are excited at the possibility of more rides in the future. Robert emphasized the benefits this type of technology specifically provides to communities like Mirabella.
“I just want to sit back and relax and go from here to there,“ Robert says, adding that he and the other Mirabella Waymo riders hope to educate others about the technology. “We are going to spread the word.”
The Next Place You’ll Go: Downtown Edition
Get ready for the next exciting journey in The Places You’ll Go series: Downtown Phoenix Edition. Come back to learn more about Waymo One’s expansion to serve the downtown region.
Join us in the most important conversations about how autonomous driving technology may shape the future of safety, mobility, community, and society.