Waymo's driverless robotaxis can now be hailed by ANYONE in downtown Phoenix in major expansion

Waymo has opened up its fully driverless ride-hail service in downtown Phoenix to all members of the general public in a significant expansion of the technology in a major city. 

The news comes a day after Waymo secured its driverless deployment permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which allows Waymo to charge for autonomous services, such as delivery, in San Francisco — and it’s a step toward full driverless taxi deployment in the Golden State. 

The company, a subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet, had previously been operating the driverless service in downtown Phoenix only for people in its ‘trusted tester’ program. 

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Trusted testers were prohibited from sharing their experiences on social media or with journalists and had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. 

Waymo has opened up its fully driverless ride-hail service in downtown Phoenix to all members of the general public in a significant expansion and a sign that the firm is committed to commercial viability of the technology

Waymo has opened up its fully driverless ride-hail service in downtown Phoenix to all members of the general public in a significant expansion and a sign that the firm is committed to commercial viability of the technology

The news comes a day after Waymo secured its driverless deployment permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which allows Waymo to charge for autonomous services, such as delivery, in San Francisco

The news comes a day after Waymo secured its driverless deployment permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which allows Waymo to charge for autonomous services, such as delivery, in San Francisco

Waymo’s offering in downtown Phoenix will allow anyone who downloads the app and hails a ride in Waymo’s service area to pay for what the company calls a ‘rider-only’ experience in one of its fleet of Jaguar I-Pace EVs. 

Earlier this month, Waymo also launched rides – with a driver in the front seat – to Phoenix’s airport from the city’s downtown, according to TechCrunch. 

The company currently has over 700 vehicles in its fleet, which includes a mix of Jaguar I-Pace EVs and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans as well as the Class 8 trucks. 

Most of these vehicles are located in Arizona, California and Texas – and are used in testing and commercial operations. 

Waymo plans on expanding to other parts of Phoenix in the coming months. It will likely provide a driverless offering to and from the airport to its own employees first and then trusted testers, followed by the public. 

However, the firm still has a number of obstacles to overcome before the technology is widely released and embraced by the public. 

For instance, Waymo still needs to secure a driverless permit from the California Public Utilities Commission before it can start charging customers to ride in its fully autonomous vehicles in the state.  

As of August, Waymo’s fully driverless service covered the East Valley that includes parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe. Within that area, the service has driven more than 500,000 autonomous miles and has completed tens of thousands of trips in rider-only mode since October 2020.

The company, a subsidiary of Google's parent Alphabet, had previously been operating the driverless service only for people in its 'trusted tester' program

The company, a subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet, had previously been operating the driverless service only for people in its ‘trusted tester’ program 

The company currently has over 700 vehicles in its fleet, which includes a mix of Jaguar I-Pace EVs and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans as well as the Class 8 trucks

The company currently has over 700 vehicles in its fleet, which includes a mix of Jaguar I-Pace EVs and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans as well as the Class 8 trucks

At the time that it was only open to trusted testers, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared her experience with the service on Twitter:

‘I had the opportunity to take my first rider only trip with the #WaymoDriver @Waymo’s fully autonomous driving technology. Phoenicians, I can’t wait for you to experience it for yourselves! Check out the Waymo One app to learn more.’ 

This latest expansion comes in the wake of accidents in prior years that involved autonomous vehicles. 

According to the NHTSA, Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo had 62 crashes reported over the last year, while General Motors’ Cruise, used in San Francisco as driverless taxi rides, had 23. 

Cars produced by Elon Musk’s Tesla were involved in the majority of those incidents, 273 out of 392, which took place between July 1, 2021 and May 15 this year. Although Tesla accounts for about 70 percent of the crashes, the carmaker has produced a much larger share of all the self-driving or assisted-driving vehicles that are currently on American roads. 

Between June 2021 and May 2022, Waymo reported a total of 19,625 trips in San Francisco and says it has tens of thousands on its trusted tester wait list there. Waymo is required to submit quarterly reports of trips to the California Public Utilities Commission. 

source: dailymail.co.uk