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Waymo plans for 100-square-mile driverless taxi service in Phoenix area

John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo, stands with the Jaguar I-Pace vehicle, Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in New York. Self-driving car pioneer Waymo will buy up to 20,000 of the electric vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover to help realize its vision for a robotic ride-hailing service. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

PHOENIX — Waymo, a self-driving car development company formerly owned by Google, reportedly planned to introduce a fully autonomous taxi area that would cover about 100 square miles in metro Phoenix.

The New York Times reported that Waymo CEO John Krafcik told reporters last week that the cars will be able to handle any condition.

“Members of the public will be able to take our cars anywhere in our service area,” he told the paper. “We will be driving everywhere — dense, urban centers, high-speed roads, low-speed roads, suburbs. There’s every driving scenario to be imagined.”

There was no timeline given, but the Times said Waymo had planned to provide as many as one million rides per day by next year.

Krafcik’s statement came just days after a self-driving car designed by rideshare Uber fatally struck a women in Tempe.

In the aftermath of the collision, Krafcik told attendees at a Las Vegas conference that his company’s technology could have avoided the incident.

“Really all that we can say is based on our knowledge of what we’ve seen so far …and our own knowledge of the robustness that we’ve designed into our systems…in situations like that one – in this case a pedestrian or a pedestrian with a bicycle — we have a lot of confidence that our technology would be robust and would be able to handle situations like that one,” he said.

Krafcik said the company has driven on public roads for more than 5 million miles and has traveled five billion miles in computer simulation to test the software and sensing.

“We’ve developed tens of thousands of actual physical tests that really put our technology through its paces and ensure that it’s strong and capable and of course very, very safe.”

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir said the Uber crash may have been unavoidable.

“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” the chief told the outlet.

Waymo announced last month that it would start charging to pick up and drop off riders. The Arizona Department of Transportation approved the company’s application to become a transportation network company similar to Uber and Lyft.

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