Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, has announced that it will open up its automated driverless taxi service to the general public in the US city of Phoenix in Arizona.
The company had been running an early access programme in the city since early 2017, testing its Chrysler Pacifica hybrid cars with a limited number of subscribers while a backup human driver was present in the driver’s seat. Over time, Waymo expanded the number of subscribers with access to the programme, while also testing without a backup driver as the programme expanded. In 2018, it also launched Waymo One, its automated self-driving taxi service accessible to the public in Phoenix, although a backup driver had always been present for Waymo One drives until now.
“We’re excited to open up our fully driverless offering to Waymo One riders,” the company said in a blog post, referring to the Phoenix public. “Members of the public service can now take friends and family along on their rides and share their experience with the world. We’ll start with those who are already a part of Waymo One and, over the next several weeks, welcome more people directly into the service through our app (available on Google Play and the App Store). In the near term, 100 per cent of our rides will be fully driverless. We expect our new fully driverless service to be very popular, and we’re thankful to our riders for their patience as we ramp up availability to serve demand. Later this year, after we’ve finished adding in-vehicle barriers between the front row and the rear passenger cabin for in-vehicle hygiene and safety, we’ll also be re-introducing rides with a trained vehicle operator, which will add capacity and allow us to serve a larger geographical area.”
Learn more about the announcement from the blog post here.