Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number for cumulative trip totals Waymo expects in Phoenix and San Francisco by summer 2024.
Waymo is expanding its commercial driverless service in metro Phoenix and making further inroads toward such service in San Francisco.
The self-driving technology company said Thursday it has doubled the service area in which its Waymo One ride-hailing fleet operates in metro Phoenix. Its vehicles will now carry customers across 180 square miles in the region, connecting Phoenix and its major suburbs. Previously, Waymo operated in two distinct areas, downtown Phoenix and East Valley, that were not connected.
Now the company, a subsidiary of Alphabet, says its operating area will be the largest contiguous area in which a driverless ride-hailing service is offered. For the first time, the operating area includes Arizona State University in Tempe, a potentially lucrative market. Waymo is also opening a second pick-up and drop-off location at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
In San Francisco, Waymo will give its "Trusted Testers" group of approved customers access to new locations, including Fisherman's Wharf and the North Beach neighborhood.
The company is awaiting final approval for its driverless deployment permit from the California Public Utilities Commission so it can start charging for rider-only autonomous rides in San Francisco.
The expansions come as a prelude to what Waymo envisions as a substantial scale-up over the next year. Waymo says it now offers more than 10,000 trips per week across Phoenix and San Francisco, not including employees. By summer 2024, it intends to expand to 100,000 trips per week, in total, for both markets.
At some point, Waymo intends to launch service in Los Angeles. The company is expanding in the face of economic headwinds, as Waymo and other autonomous vehicle startups have laid off workers and need to convince investors they have viable long-term business models.