Science

Driverless taxis to be available in Phoenix ‘in weeks’

PHOTO CREDITS: THE VERGE

According to CNBC, a selected group of customers of Waymo, a self-driving taxi service, in Phoenix, Arizona tested driverless vehicles last week.

The autonomous vehicles would be available for the family and friends of the selected Waymo customers. The company plans to extend it to all in a week. The autonomous cars, however, will be under the supervision of the vehicle operators – intervening in issues like a blocked road.

Ars Technica stated that initially, the cars will cover only 50 square miles of the area in the Phoenix suburbs of Mesa, Chandler, And Tempe. The company has not disclosed the number of people having access to the app. The firm stated: “We expect our new driverless service to be very popular, and we’re thankful to our riders for their patience as we ramp up availability to serve demand.”

The Waymo fleet consists of 600 cars, though the company has not informed how many of them would be employed. Waymo cars provided 5% to 10% of rides in assigned roads around Phoenix. As a precaution against COVID-19, the company has employed car-vehicle operators (with barriers between first and rear passenger seats). 

Automotive analyst researcher Chris Jones stated that Waymo is currently the clear leader in driverless technology and had to persuade people to get in cars without a human driver. “We have seen concerns about getting into a shared vehicle because of the pandemic – and Uber’s bookings, for example, have dropped significantly,” Jones explained. “People are familiar with Waymo – they have been testing in Phoenix for many years. Trust will be important as people ask, for example: would I put my daughter in a Waymo to take her to school?” (KJZZ). 

The company in the next stage will be expanding services to other cities across the United States. Currently, Waymo is testing in over 25 states.

ARTICLE: EJAZ SHAIKH

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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