(Motor Authority) — Waymo last week announced that Austin, Texas, will be added to its growing list of U.S. cities for its Waymo One robotaxi service.
Testing has already been in operation on Austin’s streets for the past few months and the first rides to members of the public will take place around the end of the year, the Alphabet-owned company said in its announcement.
The service will operate around the clock and travel to popular destinations, including downtown, Barton Hills, Riverside, East Austin, Hyde Park, and more.
Other cities for the Waymo One service include Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, though only the Phoenix service is open to the public without restrictions. In San Francisco, some journeys are restricted to selected riders who have signed nondisclosure agreements, and in Los Angeles, the service is still only open to Waymo employees.
The strategy is key to Waymo’s delivery of a safe and robust service. The process starts with initial testing and mapping with a human doing all the driving. It then progresses to testing with the company’s Waymo Driver self-driving system but with a safety driver behind the wheel. The next step is testing without the safety driver, and then finally a public service, first with selected riders and then the general public.
Waymo currently relies on Jaguar I-Pace electric crossovers and Chrysler Pacifica minivans for its robotaxi prototypes. The company plans to move to a dedicated robotaxi developed by Geely’s Zeekr EV brand, though the timing for that change hasn’t been confirmed.
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The latest announcement comes a month after Waymo said it is pumping the brakes on development of its self-driving service for the trucking industry, in order to focus on Waymo One. The company is still working with partners, such as Daimler Truck North America, on developing self-driving truck technologies, however.