Driving driverless

1 minute read

We still don’t have flying cars or teleportation, but Waymo is making sci-fi fantasies a reality with its growing fleet of driverless taxis. The company doubled its operating zone in Phoenix in 2023, creating what it claims is the world’s largest fully autonomous service area. In 2024, it expanded beyond Phoenix and San Francisco to the metropolis maybe most associated with driving: Los Angeles. Passengers can now summon Waymo’s white autonomous vehicles via the company’s ride-hailing app for pickup anywhere between Santa Monica and downtown (no highways allowed). The company, which expects to launch its app in Austin by 2025, has faced protests over its vehicles’ making unexpected stops. Federal investigators are examining crashes and possible traffic-law violations involving Waymo vehicles. But the company insists that its robotaxis are safe, noting that in their first 7 million rider miles, passengers experienced 85% fewer crashes that resulted in injury compared with traditional vehicles. “The status quo on our roads is unacceptable, with 40,000-plus people dying each year in the U.S. alone due to road crashes,” says co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana.

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