If you think you have been reading hype about Waymo’s upcoming robotaxi service in the Phoenix suburbs for the better part of two years, you’d be right. But the December launch, according to this Bloomberg piece, won’t happen with a bang. It will be limited in scope to a specific area of the southeastern suburbs. And there might be safety drivers in the car to take over the vehicle if necessary. That means Waymo is not confident enough in the software to go it alone. Also, the article says the first customers might be the same locals who have been getting rides from Waymo vehicles for a year.
Waymo is definitely the No. 1 autonomous vehicle program—when it comes to driving in two or three suburbs in the U.S. There are plenty of kinks in the current software, and it isn’t clear how applicable it is to roads in other regions. As we have noted before, Waymo and the rest of this industry is at the beginning stage of development. The coming launch is a baby step, and most of the hard work is yet to come.