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Waymo opens autonomous service to select Phoenix passengers

Phoenix Business Journal

Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle company operating in the Valley, has officially opened up its Phoenix service to a small group of test riders following its recent expansion into the capital city.

Phoenix residents are now eligible to become Waymo One Trusted Testers, the company’s name for its early research riders. The company is offering rides around downtown, stretching north to Camelback and 44th Street to the east.

Waymo, which is an Alphabet (Nasdaq: GOOGL) subsidiary alongside Google, has been operating in the Valley since 2017, mostly in a 50-square-mile area in the East Valley. The company now has 300 vehicles operating in the Valley which have driven a combined 500,000 miles locally.

Kerry Brennan, a UX (user experience) research manager at Waymo, said these early riders will help the company better understand what Phoenicians want before opening the service up to the public. 

“The goal of that is to really help us ensure that we are getting a broad swath of opinions, a broad swath of transportation needs,” she said on Tuesday. “We really want to know about all the different kinds of mobility that people are experiencing in the area, and we want it to reflect Phoenix; it’s a vibrant, diverse place.”

People interested in becoming a Phoenix tester just need to download the Waymo app and complete a survey to help the company understand transportation habits and needs. Brennan said Waymo would not share an exact number of testers it was looking to bring onboard. Once admitted to the program, testers will have to pay to use the transportation service.

Phoenix test riders will still see a human behind the wheel when they hail a Waymo vehicle, but in the East Valley, Waymo vehicles are running completely autonomously and have been since 2020. The company also operates a Trusted Tester program in San Francisco, near its HQ.

Phoenix riders will also get a chance to ride an all-electric Jaguar I-Pace outfitted with Waymo equipment; riders in the East Valley take trips in Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

Waymo raised $2.5 billion in outside funding last June after reportedly mulling plans to go public.


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