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Waymo expanding driverless ride-hailing service to Austin

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Waymo recently arrived in Los Angeles earlier this year, and now it is gearing up for further expansion. The company is set to extend its esteemed Waymo One ride-hailing service to the vibrant city of Austin. This new endeavor will commence in the fall, with fully driverless operations paving the way for public rides in the coming months.

Waymo asserts that the coverage will be both comprehensive and practical, encompassing significant parts of the Texas capital, including the bustling downtown core and well-known districts like Barton Hills and Hyde Park. If you wish to partake in this groundbreaking experience, you can join the waitlist today.

This move to Austin is, in a sense, a return to its origins, as Waymo initially selected Austin to conduct some of its earliest self-driving tests outside of its hometown in Mountain View.

The company has been diligently testing its self-driving SUVs in the city since the spring, and in 2015, it achieved a historic milestone by offering the world’s first fully autonomous ride on public streets.

Austin will be the fourth city to embrace Waymo One, following Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. While the company briefly mapped New York City, there have been no official announcements about introducing commercial services in that region.

Initially, rides were available only in limited sections of these cities, but recently, the Company expanded its operational area by encompassing larger portions of the Phoenix area and San Francisco.

This strategic announcement underscores Waymo’s heightened emphasis on ride-hailing services. The company has decided to delay its autonomous trucking plans to focus on enhancing passenger services.

Waymo’s primary goal is to make Waymo One a resounding commercial success, which necessitates expanding operations and obtaining regulatory permissions for serving paying customers. With competitors like Cruise and Aurora conducting tests in Texas, there is a sense of urgency to proceed swiftly.

Nonetheless, there are challenges on the path to overall growth. Certain officials in San Francisco are concerned about safety and have sought to impede or slow down the deployment of robotaxis. Instances of Waymo and GM’s Cruise vehicles obstructing traffic, interfering with first responders, and causing other issues have raised red flags.

Additionally, not all cities and states have given the green light for self-driving cars. Nevertheless, Texas’ openness to this technology may prove advantageous, and Waymo is hopeful that Austin’s rapidly growing economy (the second-fastest among major US cities) will enhance its prospects in the region.

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