ARIZONA NEWS

Waymo relaunches driverless ride-hailing, will expand Valley service area

Oct 9, 2020, 9:49 AM | Updated: 9:54 am

(Waymo Photo)...

(Waymo Photo)

(Waymo Photo)

PHOENIX – Driverless ride-hailing company Waymo has reopened the doors of its minivans in the Phoenix area and will expand service, project officials said.

The service, which resumed Thursday, is also fully autonomous for now and limited to 50 square miles in the East Valley and to riders who have been longtime participants in the Waymo One program.

But the Google spinoff company says it plans to expand the Chandler-based service area in the future.

“We’re excited to open up our fully driverless offering to Waymo One riders. In the near term, 100% of our rides will be fully driverless. We expect our new fully driverless service to be very popular,” CEO John Krafcik said in a post announcing the launch.

Eventually, those outside the established rider program will be able to download the app to hail a pickup.

Pickups were put on hold in March, as the coronavirus began to spread.

The completely driverless mode is a change from Waymo’s other self-driving programs that have been operating in the East Valley. A backup driver has been a familiar sight behind the wheel since 2018.

As the area of service grows, however, drivers will return to provide hands-on guidance.

Before the coronavirus struck, which reduced demand for rides, Waymo was providing 1,000 to 2,000 rides in autonomous vehicles per week.

Most of the rides had a backup driver behind the wheel, but 5% to 10% of the rides were without a human backup driver and were available only to a smaller group of riders who signed non-disclosure agreements.

The company did not disclose how many fully autonomous vehicles will be available to the public in the Phoenix area.

Krafcik noted that Waymo has boosted its coronavirus safety protocols over the past few months. Vehicles are disinfected several times a day and anyone who works on the minivans must wear a face mask and have their temperature checked beforehand.

Every vehicle is supplied with hand sanitizer and wipes for riders.

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

Ryan So Scottsdale PD died Thursday night...

Serena O'Sullivan

Detective with Scottsdale Police Department dies in line of duty after ‘critical incident’

Detective Ryan So with the Scottsdale Police Department died Thursday night after succumbing to "duty-related injuries," authorities said.

2 hours ago

(KTAR News Photo)...

Jim Sharpe

AZ Political Podcast: Terry Goddard on Hobbs investigation, policing in Phoenix

Terry Goddard, this week's guest on AZ Political Podcast, discusses the Hobbs "pay for play" investigation, policing in Phoenix and more.

3 hours ago

Tempe police car...

ktar.com

Tempe PD continues crackdown on street racing with Operation Street Sweep

Tempe Police Department will continue its crackdown on illegal street racing with Operation Street Sweep.

4 hours ago

A woman checks liquids in a nursing home....

ktar.com

EVIT to offer new associate degree in registered nursing

The East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) will offer a new associate degree program in registered nursing this fall.

4 hours ago

Prescott police...

ktar.com

Arizona massage parlor operator arrested for illegal sex acts

A Prescott massage parlor was investigated for illegal sexual acts on Wednesday, resulting in an arrest.

4 hours ago

The suspect is accused of killing Sheriff Mark Lamb's son, his son's fiancé, and the couple's daug...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona man accused of killing family of Pinal County sheriff in crash has been indicted

A man who killed a family of three in 2022 has been indicted, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced on June 13, 2024.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Waymo relaunches driverless ride-hailing, will expand Valley service area