Residents and visitors will have a chance to score early access tickets to take fully autonomous Waymo rides in neighborhoods across Santa Monica and Venice ahead of a wider service launch.
For four and a half weeks, from Wednesday October 11 to Saturday November 18, anyone who wants to see these robot cars in action can do up close and personal as part of an awareness and marketing drive before the parent company of Google, Alphabet, rolls out its 24/7 autonomous ride-hailing service.
According to the official blurb, “Waymo One will make six, multi-week tour stops in LA neighborhoods where people eager to experience the future of transportation will have an opportunity to hail a rider-only vehicle. Chauffeured by the Waymo Driver — Waymo’s autonomous driving technology that never gets distracted, drowsy or drunk — Angelenos will discover new and stress-free ways to explore their city, whether its finding hidden gem thrift spots in Mid City, trying a new cafe in Koreatown or catching a concert in DTLA.”
The rides are free and available around the clock. Interested riders can get a ticket in two ways:
- Attend a pop up: Waymo will be popping up in local spots throughout Los Angeles to hand out early access tickets to ride in addition to special tour merch while supplies last. Attendees will also get the chance to learn more about Waymo and ask brand ambassadors any questions they have about the service.
- Sign up for the waitlist: If you can’t make a pop up or if tickets run out at the events, you can join the waitlist online at waymo.com/waitlist or through the Waymo One app at waymo.com/waymo-one. According to Waymo, they’ll share early access tickets via email with waitlisters who frequent tour stop neighborhoods while supplies last.
Last month, California state regulators voted to allow two competing robotaxi companies, Waymo and Cruise, to operate throughout San Francisco 24 hours a day, with no human so much as even sitting in the driver’s seat. This recent ruling will make San Francisco the first major U.S. city with two fleets of driverless vehicles competing for passengers against ride-hailing and taxi services dependent on humans to operate the cars.
It is a distinction that San Francisco officials didn’t want, largely because of the headaches that Cruise and Waymo have been causing in the city while testing their robotaxis on a restricted basis during the past year and the meeting drew an unprecedented five-and-a-half hours of public comments, both in favor of and opposing the decision.
In an attempt to appease the criticism and concern, the commission requested the companies engage more with residents and city officials, both of which have complained about the robotaxis blocking traffic, hindering public transit and emergency service vehicles and making inexplicable choices while in transit.
In August, the Daily Press took a test ride in a Waymo Jaguar I-Pace all-electric SUV, resplendent with its impressive array of sensors, instruments and LiDAR detectors with no one in the front of the car at all. The biggest surprise came from the public’s reaction when they saw us smoothly sail past, or better still, actually get out of the vehicle to grab coffee.
Remarks ranged from, “Strewth, that car’s got no driver” to “This is it then, the robots are taking over,” but once some background information had been provided, they were almost all a little bit impressed and hoped that having no driver might lower the cost of using the taxi service.
After Santa Monica, the Waymo One tour will arrive in Century City, West Hollywood, Mid City, Koreatown and Downtown Los Angeles.