Following 10 years of research and testing, Waymo has finally launched its first self-driving taxi service in the USA to the public.
Waymo One will begin offering its fully autonomous ridehailing service to users in Phoenix, Arizona, operating within a 100-square mile radius.
Initially, rides will only be available to those that signed up to its early research program, which was carried out in 2017. The service will then be gradually expanded to more members of the public.
“Today, we’re taking the next step in our journey with the introduction of our commercial self-driving service, Waymo One. We’ll first offer Waymo One to hundreds of early riders who have already been using our technology. Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public as we add vehicles and drive in more places. Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully with the comfort and convenience of our riders in mind,” said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo.
An app enables users (up to three adults and one child) to call one of the Waymo self-driving vehicles, 24 hours a day, seven days a week; the vehicles operate across several cities in the Metro Phoenix area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert.
“Early riders used our self-driving vehicles to take courses at a local college, commute to work and to high school, accompany a vision-impaired aunt shopping, get to book club each week, connect to buses, and try new restaurants on date night. And, their feedback along the way has helped us refine our technology and design features that meet their needs. Based on their comments we worked on ways to streamline pick-ups, made it easy to contact support for questions, and began operating our service at all times of the day,” said Krafcik.
Waymo-trained drivers will be the front seat of the Waymo One vehicles to supervise and take over in emergencies, however it is hoped one day they will no longer be required.
“There’s a long journey ahead, but we believe that Waymo One will make the roads safer and easier for everyone to navigate,” added Krafcik.