Waymo has begun fully autonomous operation of its vehicles, without a safety driver, in San Francisco, though currently its cars are limited to transporting company employees.
“We’re particularly excited about this next phase of our journey as we officially bring our rider-only technology to San Francisco – the city many of us at Waymo call home,” said co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana. “We’ve learned so much from our San Francisco Trusted Testers over the last six months, not to mention the innumerable lessons from our riders in the years since launching our fully autonomous service in the East Valley of Phoenix – both of which have directly impacted how we bring forward our service as we welcome our first employee riders in SF.”
Although removing the human drivers from its vehicles in San Francisco is a significant milestone for the company, this is not Waymo’s first time deploying fully autonomous vehicles in a city. The San Francisco rollout follows several years of deploying the company’s technology in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona. That operation began with the Early Rider Program (now Trusted Tester) in 2017, before fully autonomous public rides were introduced in 2020. The company will soon be expanding to the Downtown Phoenix area.
“Building a safe, robust and generalizable autonomous driver – the Waymo Driver – whose capabilities and performance transfer well between geographies and product lines is our main focus,” said Dmitri Dolgov, Waymo co-CEO. “Just as our previous experience allowed us to deploy our fifth-gen Driver in San Francisco quickly and with confidence, the combination of our experience in San Francisco and Phoenix’s East Valley, grounded in millions of miles of real-world driving and boosted by billions of miles driven in simulation, is already guiding our progress in Downtown Phoenix and sets us up for future expansion of our fully autonomous ride-hailing service.”