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Waymo opens driverless robot taxi service in Phoenix for local residents unable to share their experiences online
Waymo is rolling out its driverless robot taxi service in Phoenix for members of the company’s “trusted tester” program, which is owned by Alphabet, but users can’t share their experience on social media and must sign a nondisclosure agreement.
The company calls these trips “driver only” to indicate that there is no human behind the wheel and the people they greet are being driven around in a Jaguar I-Pace EV in downtown Phoenix.
Trusted testers are not allowed to share their experiences on social media or with journalists and they must sign a nondisclosure agreement.
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Waymo rolls out its driverless robotic taxi service in Phoenix for members of the company’s ‘trusted tester’ program, owned by Alphabet
Users participating in the Trusted Tester Program are not allowed to share their experience on social media or with journalists and must sign a nondisclosure agreement
In May, Waymo co-CEO Dmitri Dolgov said at a TechCrunch event that the company had begun allowing its own employees to operate driverless rides in downtown Phoenix.
Waymo has allowed local residents to sign up as trusted testers since 2017, but the service still had human security personnel behind the wheel until October 2020, when the driverless effort was officially launched.
The fully self-driving service will cover the East Valley with parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe. In that area, since October 2020, the service has completed more than 500,000 autonomous miles and completed tens of thousands of rides in rider-only mode.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared her experience with the agency on Monday: “I had the opportunity to take my first driver’s journey with #WaymoDriver @Waymo’s fully autonomous driving technology. Phoenicians, I can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself! Check out the Waymo One app for more information.”
Waymo’s fully self-driving service covers the East Valley and includes parts of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe. It has already given more than 100,000 rides
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shared her experience with Waymo on Twitter
The company currently has more than 700 vehicles in its fleet, including a mix of Jaguar I-Pace EVs and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, as well as its Class 8 trucks.
Most of these vehicles are in Arizona, California and Texas – and are used in test and commercial operations.
This new effort with trusted testers in downtown Phoenix is the next step for wider public release, but it also comes in the wake of accidents in previous years involving driverless or semi-autonomous technology.
A June report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that nearly 400 accidents in the US were caused by self-driving or driver-assistance technology within a 10-month period.
According to the NHTSA, Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo had reported 62 crashes in the past year, while General Motors’ cruise, which was used in San Francisco for driverless taxi rides, had 23.
Cars produced by Elon Musk’s Tesla were involved in most of those incidents, 273 out of 392, which occurred between July 1, 2021 and May 15 this year. While Tesla is responsible for about 70 percent of accidents, the automaker has produced a much larger share of all self-driving or assisted vehicles currently on U.S. roads.
Of the remaining ADAS technology accidents reported by a dozen automakers, 90 were Hondas and 10 were Subrarus. Ford Motor, General Motors (GM), BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai and Porsche each reported fewer than five incidents.
The agency said that of the 130 reported accidents involving automated driving systems, 108 were uninjured and one was a serious injury accident.
In October 2018, one of Waymo’s self-driving minivans crashed into a median strip after the driver dozed off but touched the accelerator pedal, disabling the autonomous driving software. No one was injured and no other cars were involved in the accident.
Waymo follows a similar script it used in San Francisco, where it allowed its employees to use the service first before moving on to trusted testers in that city. The company took surveys of San Franciscans because of that city’s unique topography and traffic problems to determine what their concerns might be.
Waymo reported a total of 19,625 trips in San Francisco between June 2021 and May 2022 and says it has tens of thousands on its waiting list for trusted testers. Waymo is required to file quarterly reports of travel with the California Public Utilities Commission.
Cars produced by Elon Musk’s Tesla were involved in the most accidents involving self-driving or driver-assisted technology, 273 out of 392, that occurred between July 1, 2021 and May 15 this year.
In May, Waymo co-CEO Dmitri Dolgov (right) said at a TechCrunch event that the company had begun allowing its own employees to sustain driverless rides in downtown Phoenix. Left: Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakanda