Waymo One expands operations, set to cruise down highways

Waymo says putting its services on highways will reduce trip durations by 50% by evading the slower city streets
The image shows a Jaguar I-Pace, Waymo Ones cab. — Waymo
The image shows a Jaguar I-Pace, Waymo One's cab. — Waymo

Waymo One announced on Monday that it’s fully geared up to cruise down the highways of Phoenix and San Francisco for the first time soon.

The announcement was spotted by Digital Trends on a blog published on the company’s official website on Jan 8.

The expansion of its operations is being executed several years after the fully autonomous and all-electric ride-hailing company demonstrated its capability to be trusted on fast-track routes such as major freeways, as reported by Digital Trends.

Read more: Waymo One: A marvel of autonomous, electric, futuristic ride-hailing

Waymo has been offering rides to ordinary people having registered themselves in its ride-hailing app in Phoenix and San Francisco. However, after this program expansion, the highway rides will initially be exclusive to the company employees.

“The ability to utilise freeways will be especially important as we scale our operations to other cities. For this reason, we are laser-focused on our freeway ride-hailing testing,” Waymo said in a statement.

What validates its preparedness to be a fully autonomous, ride-sharing service is the “years of safe and proven experience operating fleets of rider-only vehicles on public roads across California and Arizona, and millions of miles of experience operating autonomous class 8 trucks and cars on freeways with a specialist present,” the company said.

A final nod is yet to be made by the company as it is awaiting approval of the safety and comfort of its program, after which the service will be extended to the regular users of Waymo.

Waymo says that putting its services on highways will reduce trip durations by 50% by evading the slower city streets.

When Waymo started, its cars had a human engineer behind the wheel to monitor the vehicle’s performance and ready to take control in case something went wrong. But later it received a permit allowing the cars to travel without anyone in the driver’s seat. 

The company has long tested its vehicles with someone behind the wheels when driving on freeways. However, it’s now ready to go fully driverless.

Waymo in the official blog post said it is well aware that regulators and the general public will be closely assessing the autonomous performance of the vehicles on faster roads.