Alphabet (GOOGL) launches passenger-only service in downtown Phoenix

AlphabetGOOGL’s standalone arm, Waymo, is ending long-awaited passenger-only service in downtown Phoenix.

Until now, Waymo has operated its self-driving vehicles with a company specialist sitting in the driver’s seat. After the last launch, these vehicles will operate completely without human security operators.

There will only be riders seated inside these vehicles. As of now, the service is available to riders who have become Waymo One Trusted Testers by participating in the company’s Trusted Tester program, which launched in May 2022.

Driverless robotaxi service in downtown Phoenix will be confined to a specific area, which is bounded by Interstate 17 to the west and south, Camelback Road to the north, and 44th Street to the east.

Waymo plans to roll out the underlined service to regular passengers and eventually expand its area of ​​operation.

The above-mentioned factor bodes well for the company’s intention to hit the streets of downtown Phoenix, which was announced last March.

The latest move marks Waymo’s expansion into Phoenix. Notably, Waymo vehicles have started transportation service from the Phoenix East Valley.

The company is in step with its growing efforts to expand its Waymo ride-sharing service across the United States.

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Expansion of Waymo’s efforts

The recent step is in line with Alphabet’s strengthening efforts to expand its operations and fleet, and make vehicles more user-friendly.

The company intends to make its driverless vehicles fully autonomous on the streets of San Francisco. This also marks Waymo’s first expansion outside of Phoenix.

Alphabet recently partnered with Geely, an automotive company based in China. Under the terms of the agreement, Geely’s electric mobility brand, Zeekr, will design and develop electric vehicles for Waymo, into which Waymo Driver will be integrated.

The vehicles will first be introduced on US roads. With the Geely partnership, Waymo will expand its Waymo One fleet.

Other than that, Waymo has partnered with Google Maps to ensure a seamless booking experience for Waymo One. This allows customers to book Waymo One directly from the Maps app.

These efforts will help Alphabet further penetrate the burgeoning autonomous driving space.

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global driverless vehicle market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.06% between 2021 and 2026.

Intensification of competition

Given the optimistic scenario, not only Alphabet but companies like Amazon AMZN, Intel INTC and Baidu BIDU is also making every effort to capitalize on the growth prospects in the field of autonomous driving.

Amazon’s takeover of Zoox, a developer of self-driving transportation vehicles, remains a strong asset. Additionally, the company’s launch of its first autonomous robotaxi has strengthened its position in the field of autonomous driving.

Currently, the company is preparing to test its robotaxi in California. She has already applied for a license in California to test her vehicles.

Zoox intends to open an engineering office and operations facility this year, which will serve as the base for its autonomous vehicle testing.

Meanwhile, Intel is taking advantage of the low power consumption of Mobileye chips and the ability to create boards for standalone systems. The company intends to introduce a pilot project of self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services in Munich and Tel Aviv in 2022.

In April 2022, the company previously previewed its robotaxi ride by rolling out video of a 40-minute self-driving car ride around Jerusalem.

In addition to this, Mobileye recently partnered with German electric mobility unit Benteler EV Systems and Beep to develop and deploy fully electric autonomous shuttles in the United States by 2024.

Baidu is benefiting from the strong momentum of the Apollo Go Robotaxi service across China thanks to its growing availability in several cities and an increasing number of routes.

Apollo Go is available in ten cities, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Changsha, Cangzhou, Yangquan, Wuzhen Water Town and Wuhan.

Still, Alphabet’s growing self-driving initiatives are likely to help it stay ahead of the game.

Currently, Alphabet carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the full list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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Earnest L. Veasey