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.