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Is Waymo Getting Ready to Launch in Phoenix?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 11, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Self-driving cars have been bumping along Silicon Valley roads for some time, but the first self-driving service will likely roll out in Phoenix.

According to reports, Waymo is getting ready to launch a commercial service on the Arizona flatland. The company recently announced partnerships there as part of a campaign to sell driverless safety.

"Imagine climbing into the backseat of a car and just pushing a button to go," the campaign goes. "Everyone moves around safely, drunk and distracted driving become a thing of the past and we all get time back in our day."

Phoenix First

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said the company began testing a program in April, with Phoenix residents commuting to work, shopping and taking "kids to soccer practice."

"When 94 percent of road crashes today involve human error, self-driving cars promise a future where anyone can ride with a driver that never gets drunk, tired, or distracted," he said in a blog post.

Krafcik listed several non-profit organizations that have joined in promoting the self-driving technology, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council, and the Foundation for Senior Living.

ArsTechnica and the Information reported that Waymo planned to launch a commercial driverless car service in the Greater Phoenix area by the end of the year. The new ad campaign is headed in that direction.

San Francisco, Too

Self-driving test cars have been deployed in various cities, like Phoenix and San Francisco, because they have different urban environments. The combination of cars, cyclists, people, pets and other variables have helped engineers develop the technology.

"Testing in the hardest places first means we'll get to scale faster than starting with the easier ones," wrote Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise. "Based on our experience, every minute of testing in San Francisco is about as valuable as an hour of testing in the suburbs."

For example,studies show that driverless cars have to navigate around construction 39 times more in San Francisco than in Phoenix suburbs. Emergency vehicles are 46 times more likely to rush past driverless vehicles in San Francisco streets than in the suburbs.

San Francisco has the densest population of any place self-driving cars are being tested, including the Silicon Valley, the hub of driverless technology.

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