Waymo, a pioneer in driverless ride applications, has taken its concept of micromobility to the next level. As of October 8, 2020, members of the Waymo One service will be able to use the driverless service, with friends or family on board, throughout the metro-Phoenix area. The company announced the expansion last week.
Initial benefits to the Waymo One members
Begun in 2009 as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, Waymo has consistently invested in the driverless technology and application. Over the last 5 years, a carefully controlled beta program initiated in Austin, Texas in 2015, expanded to Phoenix in 2017, where it grew to offer its members-experience, Waymo One, with self-driving cars, albeit with the presence of a vehicle operator monitoring the ride.
With the obvious decrease in ride share demand due to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, Waymo accelerated its work to expand the Waymo Driver driverless option.
With the benefit of MaaS technology and member feedback on the user experience in the driverless beta programs, which some described as “magical,” the tech company delivered the roll-out more quickly than expected.
Targeted expansion to the Public
Through the use of the Waymo App, Waymo One members now have access to safe, driverless, electric transportation. According to CEO, John Krafcik, “We’ll start with those who are already a part of Waymo One and, over the next several weeks, welcome more people directly into the service through our app (available on Google Play and the App Store). In the near term, 100% of our rides will be fully driverless. “
While expecting a great success of the driverless option, Krafcik also announced the company foresees a further expansion of capacity and geographical area with the re-introduction of rides with a trained vehicle operator by the end of 2020. That next step will be possible upon the completion of enhanced health and safety measures, such as in-vehicle barriers between the front row and rear passenger cabin, as expected in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.