Waymo Goes Big In San Francisco

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Waymo’s progress may go under the radar a bit compared to Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) progress, but let’s remember that Waymo is actually offering fully self-driving robotaxi service in some areas. Now, in San Francisco, the company is making a big step forward and “going big” by opening up its service to anyone in the public who wants to use it. Previously, you had to express interests and then find yourself on a waitlist.

Before this broad opening of the service, the following were some of the key Waymo milestones in San Francisco:

  • August 2021: opened up robotaxi service to “trusted testers,” who had to sign NDAs and not share much info.
  • March 2022: opened up service to its own employees.
  • At some point, started inviting people on its waitlist to start using the service — reportedly, that’s more than 300,000 people by now.

Apparently, Waymo now feels confident enough to open the robotaxi service up to anyone who wants to use it. Presumably, it is now comfortable doing this because of one of the following three reasons, or a combination of them: 1) Waymo has logged enough miles in the city to feel like it can handle anything Frisco throws at it, 2) Waymo has developed its technology enough, generally, that it is feeling braver in who and how many people it opens service to (naturally, this would be the most positive reason for the company’s growth and development overall), and 3) Waymo really feels a need to log more miles in order to improve and grow at the desired rate and vehicles are being underutilized or Waymo wants to roll out more. Well, it seems the answer has to be some combo of all three, but the weighting is the real question. There could be a notable difference in the company’s progress and prospects if there’s a heavier weighting to #2 than #1 or #3.

Note that Waymo completely opened its service to riders in Phoenix back in 2020. Given that, it’s a hard to make any assumptions about what this San Francisco news means. And when can Waymo do something similar in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, etc? We’ll see … hopefully.

In any case, it has to be seen as a positive step forward. The service is expanding. “Opening up the service to more people who want to pay money to ride in its driverless vehicles is a crucial step toward the normalization of autonomous vehicles. And it’s important for Waymo — and its parent company Alphabet — to turn a historically money-losing operation into one that can break even or perhaps even be profitable,” as The Verge writes. Let’s see what comes of this, but, indeed, until Waymo is a profitable enterprise, it’s hard to decide whether its approach and vision regarding robotaxis is a sensible one.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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