Waymo One officially launched in the metro Phoenix area. This self-driving car service allows users to ask for an autonomous ride 24/7 like they would with other ridesharing services. You have the option to book a trip for up to three adults and a child at once.
As with the other agencies who provide self-driving services, Waymo is taking a cautious approach to their services in Arizona and California. Every vehicle will have a driver in place to serve as a backup to reduce the risk of an accident.
Going driverless is more of a question of when than if it will happen as technology develops. Expect a slow expansion of services at first, with riding options limited to customers who are part of internal test programs.
How Waymo One Moved Forward in 2019
California authorities gave Waymo permission to start testing self-driving taxis in July 2019. This permission is part of the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service pilot program.
Waymo employees can now use this self-driving taxi service with their guests to take a ride within the company’s territory in the South Bay area.
There are still several restrictions placed on this service for now. Waymo is unable to charge for any of the rides, following the path of implementation in the Phoenix area. Each vehicle must have a safety driver behind the wheel as well. One unusual step that California is allowing for this venture is the option to contract the driving operations to a third-party provider.
As for those who are part of the Early Rider program outside of the California test area, their free rides are coming to an end. A variety of configurations are still under evaluation to determine how to get to driverless rides eventually.
How Soon Before Waymo One Goes Nationwide?
Waymo launched its first commercial ride-hailing services in Arizona in 2018 because of the favorable regulatory conditions in the state. In less than a year, this venture is expanding into more testing with the goal to roll out the service throughout the United State.
The goal is to avoid incidents with fatalities at all costs to prevent the general public from becoming skittish about this technology. Expect a slow expansion onto California roadways as the number of successful test runs increases.
It may be 3-5 years before we start seeing the next steps toward a full introduction to the general public occurs. The long-term plans will also require refinement to avoid issues with challenging weather conditions and detection concerns.
Over 10 million miles of autonomous driving on public roads has already occurred, along with over 7 billion virtual miles of testing.
Waymo One is a significant milestone that brings us one step closer to a world of full autonomy. It will still take time for this technology to become commonplace on our city streets, but it does seem like the days of using fixed routes and experimental shuttles could be coming to an end very soon.
You can find Waymo One available in Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, and Tempe for now.