Waymo said Tuesday that it would suspend Waymo One operations, according tomedia reports. Launched in the Phoenix area, the service allows the public to ride in self-driving cars during the COVID-19 pandemic, while trained safety operators are in vehicles. Waymo also stopped testing its vehicles on public roads in California.
However, according to a notice on Waymo’s website on Tuesday, Waymo will remain partially operational, especially its true driverless vehicle, which does not require a human-safe driver. These driverless vehicles are used in the Phoenix area as part of Waymo’s early passenger program.
Waymo Early Passenger Program and Waymo One service both use self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans in multiple suburbs, including Chandler and Tempe, and carry Phoenix residents. Until last fall, all of these “autonomous rides” were equipped with a human safety driver.
In October, Waymo began inviting members of its early passenger program to ride in driverless vehicles without a human safety driver. Waymo said it had stepped up efforts to clean driverless vehicles. The vehicle will be cleaned and disinfected several times throughout the day. The company said it also added disinfection products to each Waymo car for passengers to use.
In a statement, the company said:
For the health and safety of our passengers and the entire Waymo community, we suspended waymo One services with trained drivers in the center of Phoenix. For now, we will continue to monitor the development of the COVID-19 outbreak. We also suspended testing in California in accordance with local guidelines.
Our fully driverless business in Phoenix will continue with our early passenger program and local delivery and trucking efforts.
We can provide driverless, delivery, and truck services to passengers and partners, while complying with important social distance and hygiene guidelines shared by the CDC and local authorities. Evacuation of drivers has great promise, not only to make our roads safer, but also to help our passengers stay healthy in uncertain times.
We will continue to monitor the development of COVID-19 and we will contact our passengers if there are any further changes to the service. Until then, our passenger support team will be able to answer any questions.
Stay healthy, from Waymo all of us thank you for your cooperation.
The move is a special step taken under the guidance of the federal government to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition, Waymo’s partnership with UPS will continue, including delivering goods and truck testing outside of California.