Oct 9, 2020 - Economy

Waymo's driverless taxis open to the public in Phoenix suburbs

Illustration of traffic light with a green way light

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After two years of tightly controlled operation in Chandler, Ariz., Waymo is opening up its driverless taxi service to the public.

Why it matters: This is a big deal — a real driverless taxi service, with no one in the driver's seat — that is open to anyone who downloads the Waymo One app.

  • Service had been suspended back in March because of the coronavirus.

The catch: You can only ride within a 50-mile radius of Chandler, a suburb southeast of Phoenix, and existing customers get first dibs.

  • "We'll start with those who are already a part of Waymo One and, over the next several weeks, welcome more people directly into the service through our app," CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post Thursday.
  • Rides in other parts of the city will restart in a few weeks, with human backup drivers and barriers separating them from passengers.
  • That will allow Waymo to keep expanding its service area, Krafcik said.

One note about hygiene: Driverless taxis will be cleaned frequently by Waymo's service partner, AutoNation, and will be equipped with disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and an upgraded air-purification system, Krafcik said.

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