Photo courtesy of Waymo

Waymo, the autonomous driving technology division of Alphabet Inc., is set to redefine the commute experience in the Valley through its latest initiative of freeway testing for its driverless cars.

This groundbreaking move, aimed at optimizing travel times and enhancing rider satisfaction, is a game-changer in urban mobility.

Waymo’s strategy of incorporating freeway routes is poised to substantially improve travel efficiency. The company highlights on their website: “Taking a freeway instead of a surface street in Phoenix can significantly improve a rider’s experience. For example, a trip from Sky Harbor Airport to the northern parts of Scottsdale can be 50% faster by taking AZ-101 compared to city streets.”

The ability to utilize freeways will be especially important as they scale their operations to other cities. For this reason, they are laser focused on freeway ride hailing testing, according to their website.

The initial phase of freeway testing, involving Waymo’s employees, is set to roll out in the coming weeks. This phase is crucial for gathering feedback on routing and overall rider experience, which will be instrumental in refining the service for the public.

Complementing the freeway testing, Waymo recently launched a curbside pickup and drop off service at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, currently available during night hours. This service acts as a stepping stone towards Waymo’s vision of providing 24/7 autonomous travel options.

Waymo’s progression into freeway testing is backed by a stringent safety framework, according to the company. “We continuously iterate and improve our technology and operations through a rigorous process that combines structured testing, simulation, and public road operations,” their website states. This approach is fundamental to Waymo’s mission of ensuring safe and reliable autonomous vehicle operations.

Waymo One, the company’s ride-hailing service, currently spans more than 225 square miles in the Phoenix area, including key areas like Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Launched in 2018, Waymo One has been successfully providing over 10,000 trips to passengers every week.

With more than 5.3 million miles driven in the Phoenix area, Waymo is uniquely positioned to lead the transition to autonomous freeway travel, significantly impacting urban transportation.

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