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Waymo expanding driverless vehicle rides to downtown Phoenix

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Posted at 9:11 AM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 07:19:41-04

PHOENIX — Waymo is further expanding its autonomous vehicle services in the Valley.

Waymo has been mapping downtown Phoenix for months. Now, Waymo employees will start taking trips with a specialist behind the wheel. After gathering more data, they'll go fully driverless and open it up to the public.

RELATED: Inside look: Experiencing driverless ride in Valley Waymo vehicle

The driverless car company announced Wednesday it is expanding into Downtown Phoenix.

“Just as we’ve done before, we'll start with Waymo employees hailing trips with autonomous specialists behind the wheel, with the goal of opening it up to members of the public via our Trusted Tester program soon after,” Waymo said in a press release.

"For us, the important thing is to look at the data closely. Look really closely at how well the car is driving. Are there still scenarios that we need to address? And once we feel confident with the metrics, then we take the next step," said Chris Ludwick, Waymo product manager.

The company started test-driving its cars in Chandler in 2017, and in October 2020, it launched a driverless rideshare program in the East Valley. They just hit 500,000 miles traveled in the area.

"Easily, far and away, the world's largest fully autonomous ride-hailing service. So this is really exciting for us," said Ludwick.

Ludwick said riders in the East Valley have been instrumental in helping them grow.

"They've given us an enormous amount of feedback throughout the years. And it helps us improve so many small details and also they tell us what to work on next," said Ludwick.

Most of the cars downtown will be electric.

The company is also expanding services in San Francisco.

“This step we’re taking in SF comes from years of experience deploying our technology in the East Valley of Phoenix, beginning first with our Early Rider Program (now Trusted Tester) in 2017, then introducing fully autonomous public rides in 2020, to serving hundreds of rides weekly.”

You can find Waymo's safety reports here.