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Waymo chooses metro Phoenix for new self-driving rider program

(Twitter Photo)

PHOENIX — Technology company Waymo has chosen metro Phoenix to launch a public trial program for its self-driving cars.

The Silicon Valley-based company made the announcement Tuesday, but the early rider program has been quietly active in the East Valley for the past couple of months.

“Rather than offering people one or two rides, the goal of this program is to give participants access to our fleet every day, at any time, to go anywhere within an area that’s about twice the size of San Francisco,” Waymo,” CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post.

A Chandler family commented on its experiences with the cars in a video posted on social media.

“This latest phase of Waymo’s testing will provide new transportation options for Arizonans who participate, and help pave the way for the expansion of this technology,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a press release.

Waymo has about 100 self-driving Pacifica minivans on the roads currently, but plans to add another 500 to its fleet.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has partnered with Waymo, providing Pacifica Hybrids. In the future, the company also hopes to work with Honda as a supplier.

Over the past eight years, Waymo has been programming and teaching its cars advanced driving skills to ensure its customers’ safety.

When the project started in 2009, it was known as Google’s self-driving car project.

Interested residents can join the program and check their eligibility by applying on the early rider program’s website.