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Waymo today started giving robotaxi rides, with an autonomous specialist in the driver’s seat, to and from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport today.
Members of the company’s Trusted Tester Program can now hail one of its all-electric Jaguar I-PACE equipped with a fifth-generation Waymo Driver 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for rides between downtown Phoenix and Phoenix Sky Harbor. The company is working with Phoenix Sky Harbor to offer pickups and dropoffs from the 44th Street Sky Train station.
While the rides will have autonomous specialists in them for now, Waymo plans to take them out of the robotaxis and provide rider-only rides in the coming weeks. The company is also working with local leaders and community groups to ensure its meeting their needs.
“Phoenix leads the nation in demonstrating autonomous vehicle technology, science, and safety,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said. “The future of travel is here, and Waymo One service to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport marks our city’s commitment to innovation and technological advancements that will impact the world.”
Waymo began testing the capabilities of its Driver at Phoenix Sky Harbor with employees in May 2022. The airport provides unique challenges for the Driver, like opportunities to better train its perception capabilities, serving pedestrians carrying different types of luggage and learning driver behavior specific to the airport.
What’s new with #WaymoOne? 🤳🤖🚘🛫
It’s as easy as hail, ride, and fly! ✈️ Beginning today, Trusted Testers can hail rides 24/7 between Downtown Phoenix and @PHXSkyHarbor, with an autonomous specialist present for now. https://t.co/FLCEPcL86K pic.twitter.com/VsEiqqPjvo
— Waymo (@Waymo) November 1, 2022
In late October 2022, Waymo announced it will soon be expanding its robotaxi service to Los Angeles. In August, the company started offering fully driverless robotaxi rides to its Trusted Testers in downtown Phoenix. The company has been testing its technology in Phoenix since 2017. It began driving in the Phoenix suburbs of Chandler, Tempe and Mesa in 2020. In May 2022, it announced it would open up rides in downtown Phoenix to its employees.
Waymo has also been working to roll its service out in San Francisco. In March 2022, it announced that it would be giving driverless rides to its employees in the city. The news came less than a month after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued Waymo a Drivered Deployment permit, allowing the company to charge for its autonomous rides.
Waymo’s autonomous driving technology isn’t just for robotaxis, it’s also developing autonomous trucks. In November 2021, the company began a six-week pilot with UPS to test its Waymo Via’s Class 8 trucks in Texas.
Waymo has more than 700 vehicles in its fleet, which is made up of a mix of Jaguar I-Pace EVs, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans and Class 8 trucks. The company is the self-driving vehicle technology unit of Google parent Alphabet.