Waymo announces Austin as its fourth major city

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Waymo, the self-driving technology company under Google’s parent company Alphabet, has officially announced Austin as its fourth major ride-hail city.

Austin will be joining the ranks of Metro Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as Waymo continues to expand and accelerate its business.

Over the past few months, Waymo’s team has been conducting extensive testing in and around downtown Austin, utilising their all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicles.

The goal of the tests was to familiarise the Waymo Driver with the city’s unique complexities and navigate its urban landscape effectively. The testing phase concluded successfully, paving the way for an initial phase of operations to begin this fall. Fully autonomous deployment and public rides will follow in the subsequent months.

Waymo intends to launch a comprehensive and highly accessible service in Austin from the outset. The Waymo Driver will operate throughout the city day and night, covering popular locations like downtown, Barton Hills, Riverside, East Austin, Hyde Park, and more.

Saswat Panigrahi, Chief Product Officer at Waymo, said:

“Austin is one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the country, and we’ve found that the Waymo Driver is adapting to its complex cityscape incredibly quickly.

Autonomous vehicles make transportation safer, greener, and more accessible, and we can’t wait for Austinites to experience these benefits for themselves.”

The move to expand Waymo One to Austin marks an exciting milestone, offering citizens the opportunity to experience self-driving technology almost a decade after the first public ride in a fully autonomous vehicle took place in Waymo’s Firefly prototype in 2015.

Austin’s status as the second-fastest-growing major city economy in the US presents a significant commercial opportunity for Waymo’s ongoing growth.

Notably, autonomous vehicles have shown promise in improving road safety, a crucial aspect considering that Austin witnessed 125 fatalities in road traffic accidents last year, with 51 of them involving pedestrians or cyclists. The Waymo Driver’s adherence to traffic rules and constant vigilance can prevent accidents caused by speeding, intoxication, or distractions.

Waymo’s commitment to accessibility extends to collaborating with Austin accessibility advocates. The company aims to tailor its ride-hailing service to traditionally underserved groups, including individuals with visual impairments.

Emily Coleman, Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, commented:

“One of the greatest access barriers for individuals who are blind is the reliance on others for transportation.

Whether it’s work, leisure or family obligations, they require support to get around — a luxury many of us take for granted.

Providing access to autonomous vehicles gives them the ability to be independent travellers and feel empowered to seek out the lives they want without the obligation to trust strangers.”

Waymo’s all-electric, zero-emissions ride-hailing service also aligns with Austin’s ambitious goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040—contributing to sustainable transportation options for the community.

As the launch of Waymo One in Austin approaches, residents eager to experience self-driving rides can join the waitlist.

(Image Credit: Waymo)

See also: Uber will use Valid’s eSIM for IoT use cases

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