Phoenix area could get more of Waymo’s driverless minivans

May 31, 2018, 2:00 PM
(Waymo Photo)...
(Waymo Photo)
(Waymo Photo)

PHOENIX — The Waymo driverless fleet will be growing, it was announced Thursday, with an agreement to add as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans before the end of the year.

Some of those vehicles could wind up in metro Phoenix, where driverless testing has been on the road for months.

The technology will be utilized in a ride-hailing service in the area before the end of this year and then expand to other American markets, making it the first ride-hailing service with a collection of fully autonomous vehicles.

The company didn’t say how many more of the vehicles would be sent to the Valley.

The Waymo self-driving technology could also eventually be included with vehicles that would be made available to the public.

The Google spinoff company already has 600 of the self-driving vehicles testing on U.S. roads. In Arizona, the testing has been limited to Phoenix and a handful of cities in the East Valley — Chandler, Gilbert, Guadalupe, Mesa and Tempe.

Waymo driverless testing has been underway in the Valley since last fall. Shortly after that, passengers were able to sign up to ride in the vehicles in another phase of tests.

“Waymo’s goal from day one has been to build the world’s most experienced driver and give people access to self-driving technology that will make our roads safer,” John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, said in a statement.

The self-driving vehicles have logged 6 million miles on public roads, 5 billion miles in simulations and run tests covering over 20,000 individual driving scenarios, the company said.

Earlier this month, a sedan crashed into one of the minivans on a Chandler street. Police said the sedan swerved to avoid hitting another car, but instead hit the minivan, which was being driven by an employee. The driver had slowed for a red light when it was struck.

Self-driving cars have raised concerns even before an Uber in autonomous mode hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe in March.

Days after that accident, Krafcik said his company’s technology would have avoided the fatal accident.

The new vehicles were expected to be delivered later this year. The deal with Fiat Chrysler was not exclusive, but the two sides committed to the partnership in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Flickr File Photo/Ryan Boren)...
Griselda Zetino

Phoenix Children’s doctor: Croup becoming more common among kids with COVID-19

A doctor at Phoenix Children’s Hospital wants parents to be aware of a loud, barking-like cough known as croup that’s showing up among children infected with the omicron variant of COVID-19.
5 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Taylor Tasler

Homeless young adults in Arizona remain at risk for human trafficking while resources are depleted

As homeless young adults in Arizona are faced with the risk of being trafficked, funding to help them is almost nonexistent in Maricopa County.
5 hours ago
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)...

Arizona House bill seeks to impose limits on taking video of police

A proposed Arizona House bill to outlaw close-up video recordings of police actions is meant to protect officers and civilians alike, said its sponsor.
5 hours ago
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)...

Phoenix metro sets record with workforce of 2.3 million at end of 2021

The Phoenix metro area had a record number of workers at the end of 2021, the city said in a Wednesday press release.
5 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Arizona utility regulators reject new renewable energy rules for the second time in a year

Arizona's utility regulators have rejected new rules that would have drastically boosted the use of renewable energy for the second time in a year, drawing sharp reaction from clean energy advocates who said the decision leaves the state far behind what is needed to address climate change.
5 hours ago
David Whitaker (Pinal County Sheriff's Office Photo)...

Arizona sex offender who hid in desert for 107 days sentenced to 25 years behind bars

A 42-year-old man who was accused of sexual contact with a minor and hid for more than 107 days in the desert before being arrested has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, authorities said.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Arizona State University

Gain insights on next year’s trends at 58th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon

Employment is recovering from the severe contraction induced by the pandemic, but it is still way below levels at the start of 2020. Can it fully recover in the coming year?

How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
Phoenix area could get more of Waymo’s driverless minivans