ARIZONA NEWS

Waymo adds Desert Ridge, more to Valley service area with expansion that includes tribal land

Jun 6, 2024, 4:05 AM

Split panel of a map of the Waymo metro Phoenix service area on the left and a hand holding a phone...

The lighter blue shows the addition made June 5, 2024, to the Waymo One service area. (Waymo Map and Photo)

(Waymo Map and Photo)

PHOENIX – Waymo extended its metro Phoenix robotaxi service area by 90 square miles on Wednesday to include Desert Ridge Marketplace, Salt River Fields and other popular destinations.

The Waymo One expansion includes the autonomous ride-hailing industry’s first entry into tribal land through a partnership with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC).

“This collaboration marks a significant step forward in our commitment to innovation and sustainable solutions,” SRPMIC President Martin Harvier said in a press release. “Waymo’s proven track record in developing and deploying autonomous technologies gives us confidence that this initiative will revolutionize the way people travel within our city, enhancing accessibility, safety and efficiency for residents and visitors alike.”

How large is Waymo service area in metro Phoenix?

The nation’s largest autonomous ride-hailing territory stands at 315 square miles after extending its footprint in north Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa.

With Wednesday’s expansion, Waymo adds sites such as Talking Stick Resort, the TPC Scottsdale golf course and Mesa Arts Center to its service area.

“Metro Phoenix holds a special place in Waymo’s history and our hearts,” Waymo Chief Product Officer Saswat Panigrahi said in the release. “It’s a privilege to continue serving Phoenicians and visitors alike, and our team is excited to offer access to even more popular destinations across the Valley.”

When did the Valley’s driverless taxi service debut?

Waymo’s high-tech SUVs have become a common sight on Valley roadways since the nation’s first fully driverless commercial taxi service was launched in the East Valley nearly four years ago.

Passengers can hail Waymo One robotaxis through a mobile app, similar to how Uber and Lyft work. The vehicles don’t yet take passengers onto freeways, but testing is underway to add that skill.

Waymo, which originated as Google’s self-driving vehicle unit, has been expanding its capabilities incrementally since debuting in October 2022 with a service area that covered about 50 square miles in and around Chandler.

Along the way, the self-driving SUVs started picking up and dropping off riders at the 44th Street PHX Sky Train station in December 2022, making Sky Harbor the first airport in the world with autonomous vehicle service.

Phoenix airport service was later expanded to the 24th Street PHX Sky Train station. Sky Harbor access advanced again in December 2023, when Waymo started curbside service at both terminals during off-peak hours.

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Waymo adds Desert Ridge, more to Valley service area with expansion that includes tribal land