ARIZONA NEWS

Waymo officially sends driverless service into Phoenix area

Dec 5, 2018, 8:27 AM | Updated: 10:38 am
(Screenshot)...
(Screenshot)
(Screenshot)

PHOENIX — Waymo One, the driverless ride-hailing service long in the works, made its public debut Wednesday in metro Phoenix, the company said.

The Waymo team said in an online post that for the time being staffers would be behind the wheels to help riders feel more comfortable.

The project will begin on a small scale, with ridership limited to about 200, all of whom have been part of the driverless early rider program.

Rides will be sticking to the East Valley, where Waymo began to test self-driving in Chandler in spring 2017. The early rider program signed up 400 for the public trial.

The roughly 100-square-mile area will cover Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe.

“Today, we’re taking the next step in our journey with the introduction of our commercial self-driving service, Waymo One,” CEO John Krafcik said in a statement.

“Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public as we add vehicles and drive in more places,” he said.

Riders must download an app that will help them arrange a pickup 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Estimated prices will be available before final booking.

(Waymo Photo)

The self-driving vehicles are still susceptible to glitches. An Associated Press reporter taking a ride in an autonomous minivan alongside Krafcik near company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters mid-October experienced that firsthand.

The minivan performed smoothly, even stopping for a jaywalker, before abruptly pulling to the right side of the road. Ahead was a left-turning FedEx delivery truck.

In a digital message to the two human backup drivers, the van said it “detected an issue” and it would connect to a rider-support agent. Rider support didn’t respond, so they switched to manual mode and returned to headquarters.

At that time, Krafcik conceded that the self-driving vehicles were still encountering occasional problems negotiating left-hand turns at complicated intersections.

“I think the things that humans have challenges with, we’re challenged with as well,” Krafcik said.

“So sometimes unprotected lefts are super challenging for a human, sometimes they’re super challenging for us.”

In March, a self-driving Uber minivan with a driver behind the wheel ran over and killed a woman in Tempe. Gov. Doug Ducey suspended testing. The company ended road testing in Arizona two months later.

Waymo began as a secretive project within Google in 2009.

Since then, its cars have robotically logged more 10 million miles on public roads in 25 cities in Arizona, California, Washington, Michigan and Georgia while getting into only a few minor accidents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Fiery crash over the weekend leaves 3 dead, 2 injured in Phoenix

Three people were killed after their vehicle set fire when it was rear-ended by a vehicle with two men inside on Saturday night in Phoenix.
12 hours ago
Rain in the West Valley, via Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic Camera...
KTAR.com

Weekend storm sets new daily rain record in Phoenix

Recent storms passing across the Valley set new rainfall records at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Saturday.
12 hours ago
An American bald eagle flies over Mill Pond on July 29, 2018 in Centerport, New York.  (Photo by Br...
Alex Weiner

Arizona Game and Fish takes measures to avoid disturbing bald eagles during breeding season

Bald eagle mating season is here, and wildlife officials in Arizona are warning recreationists and pilots to avoid disturbing breeding areas. 
12 hours ago
(Federal American Grill Photo)...
Brandon Brown/Phoenix Business Journal

Houston restaurant to open first Arizona location in Scottsdale

Federal American Grill, a restaurant concept based in Houston, will open its first Arizona location in Scottsdale in the coming weeks.
12 hours ago
FILE - A flu vaccine is readied at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans...
Associated Press

Flu season worsens as 44 states report high activity

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. flu season keeps getting worse. Health officials said Friday that 7.5% of outpatient medical visits last week were due to flu-like illnesses. That’s as high as the peak of the 2017-18 flu season and higher than any season since. The annual winter flu season usually doesn’t get going until […]
2 days ago
(Photo by David Inderlied/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

Repeat sex offender sentenced to 20 years in Arizona prison

An Arizona man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for class three dangerous felonies and will be registered as a sex offender after release.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Waymo officially sends driverless service into Phoenix area