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Chandler signs up city workers for Waymo pilot program

(Waymo Photo)

PHOENIX – Chandler and self-driving vehicle developer Waymo have taken their relationship to the next level, committing to a yearlong program involving dozens of city employees and the ride-hailing service.

The Phoenix suburb will study worker productivity during commutes to and from meetings outside city hall. They’ll be riding in the Waymo autonomous minivans that have been rolling around parts of the Valley since 2017, but this type of partnership is a first for Waymo, city officials said.

Mayor Kevin Hartke announced the pilot program on Twitter earlier this week.

“We’ve worked closely with Waymo for the past several years and it’s a natural progression to utilize their technology,” he said Monday in a statement.

The results could help cut down on maintenance to the fleet of cars the city uses.

“We’ve been driving in Chandler for more than three years and the city has been extremely supportive of our work to deploy self-driving technology to make our roads safer,” Debzbah Hatathli, a Waymo manager, said in a statement.

A designated pickup and dropoff spot has been set up at city hall. Employees will have to fill out a survey after every trip, according to the Chandler website, and turn in work-related ride receipts online.

The Google spinoff launched Waymo One, its paid driverless car service in the Valley in December. Rides have been limited to the East Valley, where Waymo began to test self-driving in Chandler in spring 2017 with the early rider program.

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