As the doors closed on our Waymo trip, a friendly chime played over the Chrysler Pacifica’s speakers. Because Waymo is owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, which has some history refining the user experience, I assume this chime was carefully curated from a collection of dozens, if not hundreds, of possibilities, specifically engineered to make me feel comfortable in a car that is now driving itself on public Arizona roads.
Do the chime and other little touches like it really matter? Sure, it sets the literal tone for the journey, and especially for first time riders like myself, it subconsciously eased me into a bit of relaxation. I’m sure Google has done some fancy social psychology research proving that this exact pleasant chime makes people more likely to react positively to whatever happens next.
But the chime is just one part of Waymo’s strategy to get people comfortable in cars without human drivers.