Waymo, the autonomous ride-hailing service, opened for anyone 18 years or older in downtown Phoenix to order one of the company's self-driving cars on Nov. 10.
Using the Waymo One app, people can call a self-driving, electric Jaguar I-PACE (5th-generation Waymo Driver) to pick them up and take them where they would like to go within the currently available areas in downtown Phoenix and East Valley areas.
Waymo is owned by Alphabet Inc, Google's parent company. Waymo began in 2009 as the Google self-driving car project; they succeeded in driving more autonomous miles than anyone prior.
In 2018, Waymolaunched the world’s first commercial autonomous ride-sharing service in the East Valley, where the company uses the 4th generation Waymo Driver, a Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
In 2019, Waymo began offering rides in metro Phoenix to select Waymo One riders. Now people can hail a Waymo Driver to ride around downtown Phoenix at a fee, and they don't need to tip a driver since there isn't one.
Riders can call Waymo Drivers 24/7, and since the driver is a robot, it will never get drunk, tired, or distracted, according to Waymo.
"We don't even allow you to give a tip," said Waymo software engineer Reed Morse. "So if the robot does a wonderful job, you can leave the feedback in the app. You can give five stars to that ride. But yeah, there's actually no tipping."
Riders can play their own music and podcasts in the vehicle using the Waymo One app, and Waymo also plans on opening up trips to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport later this year to the public; currently only trusted testers can use this service.
Eduard Güell, a predoctoral researcher in science policy at the University of Catalonia, said that he would consider using Waymo cars if it is cheaper than ride-sharing services, like Uber.
Güell is from Barcelona, Spain, and said that he hopes Waymo can solve the inconveniences of public transportation in Phoenix.
"I think compared to any place or city in western Europe that I know, public transport here is not good," Guell said. "The frequency of the schedule and points of the city that it can reach are very few, I think. I know that it's improving with the light rail and it's growing, but I feel that people here without a car can't move really. The city is so spread and people live so far away from each other that if you don't have a car you are stuck."
Other students like Bella Mejia, a freshman studying nursing, have reservations about using self-driving cars because of safety concerns. Mejia said that she would not use the technology "unless it's foolproof."
Waymo announced last month that Los Angles will be the next city where its services will be available.
Edited by Kaden Ryback, Wyatt Myskow and Greta Forslund.
Kaden is a reporter for the Biztech desk, focusing on student run business, people profiles and research papers. During his time at The State Press, Kaden's biggest piece was about ASU's history with NASA. He's a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Tyson Wildman is a reporter for the State Press SciTech desk. He is excited to begin his journey into journalism and continue to hone his skills as a writer. He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.