Waymo is sending its fully driverless cars to handle some of the trickiest passenger pickups you can muster: airport trips. Customers flying in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport can now get one of the company’s “rider only” vehicles, the company announced, a sign that Alphabet is willing to take more risks as it tries to strengthen its case. For a fully autonomous taxi service.
Waymo is expanding the size of its service area in both Phoenix And San Francisco Despite all that it seeks to convey the message Latest headlines As for the future of autonomous vehicles, its robotaxi business is still going strong.
“No waiting list, no NDAs, no hours restriction, 24/7 service,” Waymo product chief Saswat Panigrahi told reporters at a conference. (Panigrahi’s references to hourly restrictions are a subtle swipe at rival robotaxi service Cruise, which is restricted to operating its fully driverless cars. San Francisco only at night.)
“No waiting list, no NDAs, no hours restriction, 24/7 service”
Of course, Waymo isn’t without its own limitations. The company is still waiting to receive Final approval by the California Public Utilities Commission Before it started charging for rides in its rider-only vehicles in San Francisco. As such, Waymo offers free rides in its driverless vehicles only to certain members of the public, including employees and their guests.
Permits aside, the time it takes for Waymo to go from testing to commercial operation is shrinking, Panigrahi said. For example, it took three years from testing to limit rider-only trips in Chandler, Arizona, one year in San Francisco, and six months in Phoenix. This bodes well for the company’s efforts to scale its business beyond the two cities where it operates, argued Panigrahi.
“If you look at our specific milestones, things are accelerating,” he added.
Waymo’s service area in downtown Phoenix has “doubled” to 41.2 square miles, while the company’s fully autonomous vehicles cover 46.5 square miles in San Francisco. Customers of the Waymo One RideHail service can summon one of the company’s vehicles to travel within a 36-square-mile area of the city. Waymo provided maps of its service areas in each city.
But it will be difficult to operate a robotaxis service until there are restrictions on the movement of vehicles. Human-driven services like Uber and Lyft have no such limitations. And customers can be fickle and quickly switch to another service, which promises shorter wait times and fewer restrictions on where they travel.
The company is ready to face these myriad challenges, especially as it enters such increasingly competitive spaces, Panigrahi said. Phoenix Airport. “There can be spikes,” he said. “We have some ready-made plans. There are certainly assets that we can bear very quickly if demand exceeds initially planned supply.