Waymo, formerly known as the Google self-driving car project, is an American autonomous driving technology company. It has announced its plans to extend its ride-hail services to Los Angeles, as per Drive Tesla Canada.
The announcement follows its expansion outside of Arizona to San Francisco earlier this year. However, the company declined to state when the car rides will be publicly available in the second-largest metropolitan area.
Waymo to provide round-the-clock robotaxi service in LA
According to the post on Waymo’s website, the robotaxi service will offer a ’round-the-clock service’ to all LA residents in several central districts. According to CNN, the company will start with a dozen vehicles to map the neighborhoods of Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Santa Monica, Westwood, and West Hollywood in the coming months.
Mapping an area is a crucial part of Waymo robotaxi’s operation as it will rely on detailed maps and sensors to help them navigate the surroundings.
In addition, it plans to extend its fleet from a dozen vehicles to take advantage of what it refers to as “one of the largest ride-hailing services in the world and the third largest in the US.”
“When we think about our next cities, Los Angeles jumps out. LA is a remarkable, vibrant place – and Waymo’s experience leaves us best positioned to tackle its driving complexity,” stated Waymo’s co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana.
As the company tests its software in LA, the service will initially be available to employees only. And it will extend to the general public later.
Waymo to obtain permit from the DMV, California
Before that happens, the company must get a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to operate without a safety driver behind the wheel.
The company stated in a blog post that the LA ride hail mark costs an estimated $2 billion.
“If we want to change the car culture in Los Angeles, we need to give Angelenos a real alternatives to owning their own vehicle – including a word-class public transportation network, a range of active transportation options, and the convenience of mobility as a service across our City,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“By adding Waymo to our growing list of ways to get around, we’re making good on our commitment to ease congestion on our streets, clean our air, and give people a better way to get where they need to go.”
Notably, Waymo started operating robotaxis in Arizona in 2017 and publicly opened the service in October 2020. Now, Waymo states it serves hundreds of rides in Chandler a week.