Waymo Opens Self-Driving Car Testing to Some San Francisco Residents

Mark Kauzlarich | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • Waymo is opening up rider testing of its self-driving cars in San Francisco.
  • The company is requesting feedback from riders in the city before a broader expected rollout.
  • It comes amid reports of employee frustration over the company's slow rollout from its first market, Phoenix.

Alphabet-owned Waymo is asking San Francisco residents to help test its self-driving cars in the city it hopes will be its second market.

The company said in a blog post Tuesday it is launching a research-focused program called "Trusted Tester." Residents can sign up in the company's Waymo One app. Those accepted will be able to hail an all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicle and later provide feedback on their rider experience.

The company said it uses the testers to help improve the service. "From using the Waymo One app, to pickup and drop-offs, to the ride itself, we receive valuable feedback from our riders that allows us to refine our product offering as we advance our service," the company said in the blog post.

According to The Verge, riders will need to sign non-disclosure agreements to participate and there will be human drivers behind the wheel as backup.

Waymo began as Google's self-driving car project, which started testing its technology about a decade ago. It later became a standalone company within Google parent company Alphabet and began testing in public in the Phoenix metropolitan area in 2017. It then rolled out a full self-driving taxi service in some parts of that area in 2020. It has tested its self-driving cars in other places around the country but has yet to officially roll out to other markets outside of Phoenix.

The announcement comes as some employees have reportedly grown frustrated with the company's slow pace of expansion. Several members of Waymo staff departed in the last several months, including its former CEO.

The company did not immediately respond to questions about how many testers it will accept or for how long. 

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