Doubling the area it covers with its commercial robotaxi services Waymo will connect new suburbs and previously isolated sections while increasing scaling its operations.
Previously Waymo operated in two areas of Phoenix, which will now be connected to form a service area of 180 square miles. The new area connects downtown to Arizona State University in Tempe and other East Valley suburbs. Waymo is currently active in San Francisco, along with its primary competitor Cruise, but Waymo can so far only charge fees in Phoenix. Before Waymo can charge fares in San Francisco it has to wait for the California Public Utilities Commission to issue a permit, which may take some time. Expanding in Phoenix makes good sense.
Not only can Waymo charge for rides in Phoenix, but it has had a long history in the city, where it started early operations in 2016. As early as 2018 Waymo was offering rides in the suburb of Chandler without a human test driver behind the wheel. Later that same year they launched there commercial offering, Waymo One.
Waymo’s expansion in Phoenix makes a lot of sense. It is the most logical space to expand because they can charge customers, an essential piece to turn the company into a profitable business. The promises around autonomous vehicles and robotaxis are late by any estimation. It remains unclear who will finally crack the many technological and regulatory hurdles needed, but this is one more step that Waymo is taking in that direction. For a robotaxi company to have the social benefits many hope they might have, such as increasing accessibility to goods and services and lowering emissions in large cities like Phoenix, they must operate profitably.
The Written by Joshua Bronson,
RISE Mobility & Systems