Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, launched its fully driverless Robo-taxi service to people who are already Waymo One riders in Phoenix, Arizona on October 8.
From an article in USAHerald by Jackie Allen.
The company’s CEO John Krafcik said 100% of Waymo’s rides will be driverless within 50-square miles of the metro area.
Since 2017, Waymo has been prototype testing it’s a fully-driverless fleet in Phoenix. The city was chosen for its near-perfect weather, environment, and traffic conditions.
Waymo also set up additional testing locations in Michigan and California to make sure its vehicles can adjust winter and other less-than-perfect conditions.
Waymo has a fleet of 300 autonomous vehicles, which is more than any competitor. They have logged about 20 million miles on public streets and about 10 billion miles in simulation.
Waymo uses a sophisticated LIDAR technology which was largely developed by now-disgraced autonomous car pioneer, Anthony Levandowski, who pled guilty to trade secrets theft in August.
In addition to using lidar, cameras and radar, Waymo cars are outfitted with microphones to detect sirens from police or emergency vehicles.
Although this is currently being billed as an extended public trial for only Waymo One riders, the fully driverless taxi service will open soon to anyone downloading the app.
Robo-taxi health and safety coronavirus policies.
The COVID-19 pandemic reduced the demand for all ride-hailing services. Before the coronavirus struck, Waymo was providing 1,000 to 2,000 rides weekly. And only 5% to 10% of those were without a human back-up driver. All driverless rides required passengers to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
Waymo is outfitting all their vehicles with barriers between the front row and the back passenger seating for the sake of hygiene and safety.
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