CHANDLER, Ariz. - An Arizona man who signed up for Waymo service in 2018 is talking about the service, months after the company rolled out fully autonomous vehicles in parts of the East Valley area of Phoenix.
Odds are people have seen Waymo-branded vans in parts of Chandler, Tempe or Mesa, albeit with someone sitting in the front seat. In February 2021, Waymo cars went fully driverless.
"Safety is our number one goal. We are building the world's most experienced driver. We have driven over 20 million rides on the road, and in simulation, we have driven 20 billion miles," said Ryan Powell, Director of User Experience Research and Design. "Now during the pandemic, they appreciate having that space to themselves and feel it is a safer way to travel."
Waymo is also providing a cabin air flush in between each ride for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. For some who still may be worried about being a passenger in a fully autonomous car, Waymo says they have done the work to ensure safety.
Passenger speaks out
Ben Henderson said he enjoys the service.
"We enjoy going out for dinner or to run errands, grab groceries, or my wife and I to go on a date if we want to grab a couple of drinks and don’t want to run into the hassle of interacting with an uber driver. It's really fun!" said Henderson.
Henderson says the cost is about the same as Uber, but with an added perk.
"When you roll up to a stop light and you see someone glance over and see there's no one in the driver's seat and take a picture, it's fascinating," Henderson said.
Plans to expand?
Currently, the autonomous car service is being offered in parts of Chandler, Tempe and Mesa, but Waymo vehicles with safety drivers have been spotted in the Downtown Phoenix area, prompting some to wonder if the company has plans to expand its service footprint.
Officials with Waymo say the cars may be mapping or testing the area.
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