Autonomous driving technology company Waymo announced Wednesday plans to expand its driverless cars into downtown Phoenix.
Waymo has been operating in the East Valley since 2017 and is now planning to expand their taxi service program that gives customers rides in driverless cars, including all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicles, in addition to Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans.
The company’s Jaguar vehicles have been seen the last few weeks taking measurements in downtown and midtown Phoenix.
The downtown Phoenix initial rollout will only be available to Waymo employees, hailing rides with a person behind the wheel, what Waymo calls “Trusted Testers. The drivers will be monitoring the autonomous technology before opening to members of its public testing program in the near future.
No formal date has been set on when full autonomous rides would be available to the public in downtown Phoenix.
The Phoenix announcement coincides with the introduction of fully automated Waymo test rides in San Francisco. With this announcement, Waymo has deemed themselves the first company to simultaneously run fully autonomous ride-hailing operations in multiple cities.
“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,” Dmitri Dolgov, Waymo co-CEO, said in the release.
“Just as our previous experience allowed us to deploy our 5th-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.”
“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,” Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana said in a statement. “Both of which have directly impacted how we bring forward our service as we welcome our first employee riders in SF.”
The company said that its commitment to the Valley remains strong, as shown by the expansion to downtown Phoenix.
Waymo, based in Mountain View, California, and owned by Alphabet Inc., has been carrying members of the public in its vehicles through a 50-square-mile area in Chandler, Tempe and Mesa since October 2020. Before that, the service was only available to a select group starting in 2019.