Waymo says its robotaxis now complete 50,000 trips a week

13 May 2024

Image: © David Harpe/Stock.adobe.com

The company is planning to expand into more US cities this year and claims its robotaxis are improving road safety, though the sector has faced some hurdles over the past year.

Alphabet-owned Waymo recently claimed that its robotaxi service has grown significantly in the US, as it serves more than 50,000 paid trips every week across three cities.

This follows a period of expansion for Waymo, which received approval in March to significantly expand its driverless taxi operations in the state of California. Shortly after, the company revealed plans to make its services available in four major US cities later this year.

The company currently operates in the cities of San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles, but Waymo also plans to bring its robotaxi services to four cities including Austin, Texas.

“We see people from all walks of life use our service to travel carefree, gain independence, reclaim their commute and more,” Waymo said on X. “Fully autonomous ride-hailing is a reality and a preferred mobility option for people navigating their cities every day.”

Waymo also claims that its vehicles are improving road safety for “all road users” based on data collected to date.

“With an all-electric fleet powered by renewable energy, we’re working to support the sustainability goals of the cities where we operate,” the company said.

But while Waymo claims its vehicles are boosting road safety, the automated vehicle sector has suffered multiple knocks in the US due to accidents and concerns about the safety of these vehicles.

Waymo itself issued a voluntary recall of its self-driving software in February, after two of its robotaxis hit a towed vehicle in December 2023. The company claimed the truck was being improperly towed and that this error contributed to the “unusual” incident.

But one of the most significant incidents occurred last year by GM-owned Cruise, when one of its robotaxis dragged and pinned a hit-and-run victim in San Francisco. This incident is being investigated by multiple US organisations and led to the company’s driverless taxi permit being suspended in the US state of California.

In response, Cruise recalled its robotaxis, slashed a significant portion of its workforce and appointed Steve Kenner as its chief safety officer, as part of an effort to rebuild trust in its services.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic