Waymo, a subsidiary of Google that has been researching and developing autonomous vehicle technologies for nearly a decade, has just begun offering a self-driving taxi service to a select group of users.
For now, the Waymo One self-driving taxi will only be available in four suburbs within Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Waymo One uses a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid MPV that has been retrofitted with all the terrain scanning and mapping equipment that is necessary for autonomous driving.
Waymo, who has been performing trials on the robo-taxi service since April last year, says that self-driving technology is new to many and thus a trained Waymo personnel will still be seated at the driver’s seat to supervise the entire operation.
Waymo certainly hopes to expand the customer base as well as the application of self-driving vehicles to examples such as delivery vehicles as well as licensing its technology to other companies. The company has clocked over 16 million kilometres of self-driving on public roads, with simulation runs registering 700 times more mileage.
Nissan has also started trials on a robo-taxi service earlier this year, using a Nissan Leaf with autonomous technologies circling a 4.5-kilometre loop that includes their Global Headquarters office block, shopping malls, and other point-of-interest in Yokohama, Japan.