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- Waymo's driverless vehicles to begin operating on Phoenix freeways, starting with employee trips.
- The gradual expansion to include paid passengers via Waymo One app for freeway travel.
Waymo, the self-driving car subsidiary of Alphabet, is taking a step forward by introducing its fully autonomous vehicles to the freeways of Phoenix, writes The Verge.
This move marks the end of the company's previous practice of avoiding higher-speed roadways and represents an advancement in autonomous vehicle technology.
Cautious Approach to Freeway Travel
While Waymo's vehicles are gearing up to handle freeway speeds, the company is adopting a cautious approach to passenger selection. Initially, only Waymo employees and their friends will experience driverless rides on the freeway. This cautious rollout is part of Waymo's strategy to ensure safety and reliability before extending the service to paying passengers using the Waymo One ride-hailing app.
Waymo's self-driving cars have been confined to lower-speed local roads, often resulting in longer journey times due to the inability to use highways. This limitation has been a point of criticism, suggesting that autonomous vehicles weren't fully equipped for real-world driving scenarios.
Data Collection and Future Expansion
As Waymo's autonomous vehicles start navigating freeways, the company will collect data and feedback from employee passengers. This information will be crucial for improving the service, particularly for providing faster routes to key destinations like Phoenix's airports. Airport trips are a significant revenue source for ride-hailing services, and Waymo's successful freeway operation could enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction for these journeys.