Waymo has been testing autonomous vehicles in a suburban region of Phoenix in Arizona for some time, and since November last year the robotaxi fleet has even been commercially operating. And at the end of October, the first Waymos without drivers were sighted. Almost lost was the fact that the city of Chandler has entered into a partnership with Google’s sister company, where employees of the city can use Waymo vehicles for business trips.
Since June this program is now in operation and Waymo published a first experience report with one of the municipal employees. Micah, who is the city’s Director of Economic Development, now uses the service regularly to come to various appointments between administrative buildings and business people. He is one of dozens of city employees using the service.
The vehicles currently cover the Phoenix suburbs of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe, with a total area of 809 square kilometers and 1.2 million inhabitants.
Several dozen Chandler City employees use the service. So far, the city has its own fleet of company cars that employees can use as needed. However, in a city where temperatures can reach 48 degrees (119 Fahrenheit), this has some disadvantages. The vehicles standing outside are often heated inside, so that they can never cool down in time, especially at short distances. The Waymo vehicles, which are constantly in use, arrive with air-conditioned vehicles and passengers don’t have to worry about parking or driving.
The city has signposted some places to get in and out, which makes it much easier to calculate routes and travel times. For Micah there are some directly in front of the town hall, which is very convenient for him.
Waymo currently has 600 vehicles in service in the San Francisco Bay Area, Detroit and the Chandler region, with vehicles being sent to other regions for testing as well. And the completely driverless vehicles are also available to city employees. Micah itself hopes that in the future it will also be possible to make further trips to previously uncovered regions.
This article was also published in German.