Wednesday, February 8, 2023 10:35 am

Phoenix mayor snags a ride in a driverless Waymo car as company launches autonomous rides in downtown

By Taylor Seely | Arizona Republic

The self-driving car company affiliated with Google launched in downtown months ago, but safety drivers sat behind the wheel in case of emergency. Now, people who are part of the company’s Trusted Tester program can ride completely solo, for a fee.

Residents can apply to become testers through the Waymo One app available on smartphones. The company wants a diverse set of riders with varying transportation needs, a spokesperson said.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego took a driverless ride and shared her experience in a video posted to social media Monday.

At one point in her ride through downtown, she notes a group of pedestrians at three corners of an intersection and 10 nearby cars.

“That’s a lot for a human to process but no problem for the Waymo driver,” Gallego says.

She later adds that self-driving cars could change the way cities are built and lauds Waymo for its “clean and sustainable” technology.

The Trusted Tester program uses electric Jaguar I-Pace vehicles.

“I also hope it will make us a more inclusive city,” Gallego said, “There are a lot of people in the community who can’t drive or choose not to. We want them to be able to go everywhere they want to.”

In the Trusted Tester application, Waymo asks the applicant if they want access to the program “to gain independence in transportation” instead of having to rely on

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