While other autonomous taxi companies are having problems Alphabet’s Waymo is progressing in Arizona. (Source: Waymo)

Waymo Plans to Expand Autonomous Taxi Service in Phoenix as Other Services Flounder

Even though there is enormous turmoil in the EV industry, some sectors are moving straight ahead with their plans for driverless transportation. That company out of Mountain View California known as Waymo has big news for the Phoenix area.

Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous driving tech unit, says it’s expanding its Waymo One robotaxi service in metro Phoenix, Arizona, to the city’s busy airport, where it expects demand for rides to be high eventually.

Waymo executives said that starting this month it’s letting “trusted testers,” a limited group of riders registered in its network, hail electric Jaguar I-PACE SUVs in its Phoenix fleet round the clock. Rides will be available between downtown Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport. Waymo is also working with the airport to ferry passengers to the 44th Street light-rail train stop about 2 miles away. Backup human safety drivers will be behind the wheel as the service starts, though they’ll be removed “over the weeks to come,” the company said in a blog post.

Waymo employees have already been using its robotaxis to get to the airport and expanding access to a portion of the public is intended to help improve the service “before we roll out more broadly,” the company said.

“I like being able to relax, not worry about having a stressful commute, and not having to question the driver’s decision-making abilities,” said Sophia, a Metro Phoenix Rider.

According to an article in forbes.com, Waymo follows a rigorous safety framework that combines multiple methods that help verify and validate our safety readiness and meet applicable laws and regulations.

So by using employees to help train their vehicles and using regulated riders to get their routes started to the Phoenix airport, it seems Waymo has moved ahead of most of its competitors in the robotaxi business.

On Monday, TuSimple, a Waymo rival in autonomous trucking, fired Xiaodi Hou, the cofounder, CEO, chairman, and architect of its technology. That happened after a news report said Hou was being investigated for his role in improperly financing and transferring technology to a Chinese startup. Hou denies doing anything improper, and TuSimple said the move didn’t result from media coverage.

And this report follows up on the news that ARGO AI has lost its major backers in its EV endeavors. Ford and VW say they are bailing out and taking billion-dollar losses on that project.

read more at forbes.com