Waymo is targeting Los Angeles as its next location to launch a driverless taxi service.
In a blog post Wednesday, the autonomous-vehicle company owned by Alphabet Inc.
said it will begin driving autonomously in several Los Angeles neighborhoods in the coming months, ahead of launching “a round-the-clock service” available to “all residents of L.A.” in the future.
Waymo has been driving autonomous cars in the Phoenix area since 2017, and started offering driverless rides to the public there in 2020. In March, Waymo received permission to offer free driverless rides in San Francisco, though so far that service has only been available to Waymo employees.
With generally flatter terrain, wider streets and more consistent weather, Los Angeles may prove to be an easier testing ground than San Francisco, where Waymo’s distinctive Jaguar I-Pace vehicles with sensors on the roof have roamed for years learning the streets — with occasional difficulties.
Last month, Waymo hired Elisa de Martel as its new chief financial officer, with an eye on expanding its autonomous-driving services into more regions. “Elisa is really here to help us scale our business through our next phase of growth,” a spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal at the time.
“When we think about our next cities, Los Angeles jumps out,” Waymo’s co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana said in a blog post Wednesday. “L.A. is a remarkable, vibrant place – and Waymo’s experience leaves us best positioned to tackle its driving complexity. We’re working closely with Angelenos to ensure we’re addressing the transportation needs and priorities of their communities as we bring the Waymo Driver to L.A.”
Waymo did not offer a detailed timeline for its Los Angeles operations. Waymo, and autonomous-vehicle technology in general, has progressed slower than some initially expected years ago. Still, the company has raised about $5.5 billion in funding since 2020, according to Crunchbase data.