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Waymo Brings Its Driverless Taxis To Downtown Phoenix

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Waymo is bringing its fully autonomous vehicles to downtown Phoenix. The Alphabet-owned company this week started picking up “trusted” passengers in the region using its driverless taxis, The Verge reports. These robot taxis come without human safety drivers behind the wheel.

Waymo has been operating driverless vehicles in Phoenix for several years now. It began testing the service back in 2017 and opened it to the public in 2020. But the availability was limited to a few exurban towns, including Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, and Gilbert. The company avoided entering the denser areas of the city for safety reasons.

But Waymo started showing signs of expanding the driverless taxi service to downtown Phoenix last year when it launched the Trusted Tester program. The program allowed people in the region to sign up for early access to the technology. They had to join a waitlist and sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) once approved. The selected Phoenix residents were eligible to ride Waymo’s fully autonomous vehicles.

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The company finally announced in March this year that it is expanding its driverless taxis to suburban Phoenix. It was initially available to employees only. But Waymo is now covering those Trusted Testers as well. They can use the Waymo One app to call a paid “rider only” Waymo taxi. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was one of the first to take a ride in these taxis. She took to Twitter to tell Phoenix residents about the service.

Waymo also produced a video featuring the Phoenix Mayor riding its driverless taxi. “I enjoyed my trip through downtown very much. It was fun to watch the wheel turn itself and navigate the city,” she said. Gallego hopes that this clean and sustainable technology will make Phoenix a more inclusive city. “There are many people in this community who can’t drive or chose not to. We want them to be able to go everywhere they want to,” the Mayor added.

Waymo continues to expand its driverless taxi service

Waymo expanding its driverless taxi service to downtown Phoenix is a testament to the company’s growing confidence in its fully autonomous vehicles. While rider-only trips are only available to Waymo employees and Trusted Testers in the region, the service is open to the public in Phoenix East Valley. In Phoenix Sky Harbor, Waymo is offering trips from downtown Phoenix to the airport for its employees. These rides come with a specialist safety driver, though.

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Moreover, Waymo is also testing rider-only trips for its employees in San Francisco. Paid trips with a safety driver are available to Trusted Testers in the region. Rider-only vehicles are going to be increasingly popular and Waymo is certainly at the forefront of this revolution.