What you need to know
- Waymo has brought its driverless vehicle service to downtown Phoenix.
- Downtown Phoenix, alongside San Francisco, is a part of Waymo becoming more confident in bringing its driverless service to more densely populated cities.
- These tests are done without a safety driver which are usually in the car in case something goes wrong with it.
Waymo has finally brought its driverless cars to downtown Phoenix as it shifts to include denser populated areas.
According to The Verge, the inclusion of these robotaxis in downtown Phoenix comes after Waymo started its Trusted Tester Program in late 2021. Interested parties in the program could join a waiting list, wait for approval, and sign an NDA.
Those waitlisted can now enjoy robotic drives around Phoenix's metropolitan area, with the hopes that it will make Phoenix a "more inclusive city."
The inclusion of Downtown Phoenix signals the Alphabet-owned company becoming more comfortable with bringing its automated driving service to larger cities. Waymo has been testing its self-driving car service in the less-dense surrounding suburbs of Phoenix since 2017. According to Waymo, its current service areas include San Francisco, downtown Phoenix, Phoenix Sky Harbor, and Phoenix East Valley.
Trips for the Phoenix Sky Harbor are only limited to Waymo employees, with a safety driver included at the moment. In San Francisco, there is testing for Waymo employees rider-only trips alongside paid trips for Trusted Testers with a safety driver on board. As far as Phoenix East Valley is concerned, this testing is open to rider-only trips for members of the public.
Waymo One is the company's driverless car service which has recently been updated to include the ongoing tests in downtown Phoenix. Android users can download the app from the Google Play Store, and iOS users can navigate the Apple App Store. Customers can hail a car and customize its dashboard display with a unique two-letter formula, so you'll know if it's your ride or not.
It's also worth noting that the Waymo One service is completely driverless without the inclusion of a safety driver. Typically, these automated cars come with a driver who is there in case something goes wrong with the vehicle. Waymo's current public testing is moving away from including such a person depending on the area and whether or not the passenger is an employee or "trusted tester." According to Tech Crunch, Waymo's co-CEO Dmitri Dolgov stated in May that removing the safety driver began employee tests in downtown Phoenix before the company decided to expand to the Trusted Testers program.
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