- To mark the one-year anniversary of its commercial autonomous taxi service, Waymo announced it will expand the ridership base of Waymo One. That includes releasing its app on the iOS store, rather than keeping it only on the Google Play store.
- The Google-backed service has delivered more than 100,000 trips to more than 1,500 monthly riders in the Phoenix area, according to a blog post. The number of weekly rides has tripled since its first full month of service in January 2019.
- Waymo has not announced whether it will enter new markets beyond the Phoenix area, or how many new riders it will add to its pool in the next year. The company promises "new features and capabilities" similar to the addition of Wi-Fi to its cars, but has not detailed what is on the horizon.
The launch of Waymo One in December 2018 marked the first commercial self-driving taxi service in the nation. Although it has a small operating area — mostly in the suburb of Chandler — the service has clearly caught on, and has been closely watched by competitors who hope to launch their own autonomous taxi services.
Waymo has used its inaugural year to refine its service, including streamlining its app and giving users the option to have the car honk its horn (a necessity since there’s no driver to contact). The cars have added features like Wi-Fi, music control and a “zoom feature” that lets riders see what the car is viewing. In Chandler, the city installed what’s believed to be the nation’s first autonomous pick-up and drop-off zone in front of City Hall to accommodate government workers. Waymo has also discussed expanding into delivery and other business partnerships.
Matt Burdick, a spokesman for the City of Chandler, said Waymo One has been "well received" by residents and officials alike. Police Sgt. Jason McClimans said a key part of that has been Waymo’s willingness to work with the government and emergency responders. The city has had few incidents with Waymo vehicles, McClimans said, and even fewer where the self-driving car was at fault.
"They’re learning from us in terms of how to operate safely on our streets, and we’re learning from them about technology and how autonomous vehicles will work," McClimans said. “Our interactions have been very positive.”
More companies such as Tesla, Ford and startup Zoox are eyeing their own self-driving taxi services, and the relationship between Chandler and Waymo is likely to be a model as the autonomous market expands.