Waymo, the Silicon Valley-based self-driving car company owned by Alphabet, is beginning driverless taxi services in Los Angeles with its autonomous vehicles.
The taxi service kicked off at Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, where Waymo introduced its Waymo One robotaxi service to the public.
Individuals interested in the 24/7 taxi service can obtain a free one-week ride trial by securing an activation code at in-person pop-up events or by signing up online.
In the coming months, Waymo One will extend its services to other areas, including Century City, West Hollywood, Mid-City, Koreatown, and downtown Los Angeles.
Autonomous vehicle enthusiasts, who received prior emails about the event, eagerly lined up at the Waymo stand, excited to experience the future of transportation.
Waymo began mapping Los Angeles with human drivers in 2019 and initiated self-driving vehicle testing with safety drivers in Santa Monica last fall.
The company already offers fully driverless rides to the public in San Francisco and Phoenix, gaining approval from the California Public Utilities Commission for charging rides and offering 24/7 service in San Francisco.
Despite the enthusiasm, the event faced opposition from around 30 protesters representing Teamsters Union Local 630.
Waymo has reported that the majority of its collisions have resulted from other vehicles colliding into the driverless cars.
While some concerns persist, Juan Matute of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, who advocates for safe streets, believes self-driving vehicles are safer than human-driven ones based on personal experiences with Waymo.
Manute pointed out that autonomous vehicles “help with some of the issues we have with distracted driving because an autonomous vehicle is never distracted.”