Alphabet's Waymo, the autonomous car company, will soon offer rides in its fully autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. The vehicles won't include a human safety driver behind the wheels. The rides will only be available to Waymo employees initially and will soon roll out to the company's "Trusted Tester" program members.
The company also announced its plan to expand in Arizona to cover downtown Phoenix. Autonomous rides are available to the public in the Phoenix metropolitan area since 2020.
“We’ve learned so much from our San Francisco Trusted Testers over the last six months, not to mention the innumerable lessons from our riders in the years since launching our fully autonomous service in the East Valley of Phoenix,” co-Chief Executive Officer Tekedra Mawakana said in a statement to Bloomberg.
Just like in Arizona, Waymo's autonomous rides will also be available to the public in San Francisco. Earlier this year, Waymo got the required permits to charge for its autonomous cabs in San Francisco. However, the company can charge people for rides as long as there is a human safety driver behind the wheel.
Cruise, majority-owned by General Motors, is another autonomous taxi company that has been testing its technology in the Bay Area over the past 5 years. Even Amazon has followed Waymo's footsteps to launch "Zoox".
Till now, autonomous cars have largely relied on traditional gas-engine or electric vehicles that are fitted with a suite of Lidar and other sensors that detect everything around them. However, the permits are given as long as there are safety drivers behind the wheels to take over in case of an emergency.