While Waymo had recently announced the launch of its second fleet of robotaxis with San Francisco, the company’s internal test fleet in and around Waymo’s Mountain View headquarters appears to be grounded, and that already for weeks. The Chrysler Pacifica minivans that are otherwise in everyday traffic in Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Los Altos and Menlo Park are all on the parking roof at headquarters.
One reason for this could be that home office rules still apply at Google and its sister company Waymo, so the employees who tested these vehicles as robotaxis are not currently using them. Another reason could be that with the launch of the public robotaxi service Waymo One with using Jaguar iPaces, the safety drivers were withdrawn and are now on the road in San Francisco.
What is open is which vehicles Waymo will operate in the future. Will the company switch entirely to the battery-electric iPace and possibly other electric vehicles and cease operations with the hybrid minivans? The question, then, is whether the minivan fleet shutdown is just a temporary measure, or if it will be permanent.
Here is a video of the grounded minivans:
This article was also published in German.