- Waymo is opening up registration for its driverless ride-hailing system in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Riders can now bring along friends and family and talk in public about the rides.
- Rides with human safety drivers behind the wheel will happen later this year after the Chrysler Pacifica minivans used by Waymo are outfitted with interior shields.
Today Waymo announced that it is opening up its driverless ride-hailing service, Waymo One, to more people in the Phoenix area in a staggered plan that will play out over the next couple of months. Those already enjoying riding in a vehicle without a human behind the wheel can now talk about it, while others interested can start signing up for the service.
Waymo One riders in Phoenix who are already using the service can now bring along their friends and family during a driverless trip. They’re also allowed, finally, to talk about the experience. Previously, they were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement before riding around in Waymo’s autonomous vehicles.
Waymo also noted that it is opening up registration for the service to more people living in Phoenix, but those new members will likely have to wait a while before they can hop in the back of a driverless Chrysler Pacifica. The company said that current Waymo One users who have not yet had a chance to ride in the driverless vehicles will get first dibs.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik said it would take a couple of weeks to work through the backlog of Waymo One riders already in Phoenix. So far only about 5 to 10 percent of completed rides have been in driverless vehicles in 2020 pre-COVID. With COVID-19 keeping drivers out of vans until later this year when the company installs barriers between riders and the front seats, all rides, for now, will be driverless.
According to Krafcik, all 300 vehicles in the Phoenix fleet are capable of driverless rides. “We’ll use the number of cars we need to accommodate the demand that we expect,” Krafcik said.
As for keeping the cars clean during a pandemic, Krafcik said that it has increased the frequency of its cleaning regimen and added, “We’ve added something we call ‘cabin-air flush’ between every ride. We worked with FCA on this feature, which allows us to cycle through something like four to five times the interior cabin air volume of the Pacifica. That extracts by itself over 99 percent of whatever it was that prior riders might have brought into the vehicle.”
For those in the Phoenix area interested in riding in Waymo’s driverless vans, you can learn more and sign up here.
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