Waymo has announced plans to extend its ride-hail service to Austin, Texas. The state’s capital will become Waymo’s fourth major city for its commercial operations, joining the likes of Phoenix, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
In recent months, Waymo started testing of its all-electric Jaguar I-Pace autonomous vehicles across the streets of Downtown Austin. This move was aimed at familiarizing the Waymo Driver with the city’s characteristics, paving the way for a successful early testing phase.
The testing has been positive, prompting Waymo to announce its inaugural phase of Waymo One operations in Austin. The company said it plans to roll out its “initial phase of operations” later this fall, likely meaning rides with “trusted testers” first, like it did in San Francisco, before expanding to the general public at a later time.
“Austin is one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the country, and we’ve found that the Waymo Driver is adapting to its complex cityscape incredibly quickly. Autonomous vehicles make transportation safer, greener and more accessible, and we can’t wait for Austinites to experience these benefits for themselves,” said Saswat Panigrahi, Chief Product Officer at Waymo.
As Waymo begins its expansion into Austin, the company finds itself in a holding pattern regarding its operational expansion in other cities. Waymo is currently in the process of awaiting a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CAPUC) before it can officially start its services in Los Angeles. At the same time, Waymo’s hopes to expand its operations in San Francisco are facing opposition.