The autonomous car industry has seen some significant setbacks in the last few months, but Waymo is moving forward with plans to deploy rider-only testing for its self-driving vehicles on Phoenix freeways.
According to an article in the Arizona Republic by Corina Vanek, the company says the first riders will be Waymo employees. “Waymo employees will be able to hail autonomous rides on freeways around Phoenix and will provide feedback to the company before rider-only freeway trips are offered to the public.”
Adding freeways to the coverage network will allow for longer rides and connect more destinations, the company says. Waymo is already permitted to operate in roughly 225 square miles covering Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, and Scottsdale. “By October 2023, Waymo vehicles had driven 5.34 million miles in the Phoenix metro, according to data released by the company in December.” Unlike its competitors, Waymo has largely avoided federal investigations or recalls.