Waymo's Self-Driving Cars Are Now Taking Riders To The Phoenix Airport

Waymo, the company that specializes in self-driving car tech and that first existed as an ambitious Google project, has announced yet another major milestone in the world of autonomous driving: paid airport trips. As of November 1, 2022, some people have the opportunity to catch a ride in a self-driving Waymo EV to one of the busiest airports in the world. Though these rides will initially include a human driver behind the wheel, Waymo plans to remove the driver element within weeks.

We've seen self-driving automotive technology come a long way over a relatively short span of time. Once viewed as preposterous or frightening, many modern vehicles now come packed with smart features that give the average consumer a taste of what this technology can do. It has become commonplace to see self-driving cars on the roads of certain cities, and though many people still don't trust the technology, there's obviously no stopping the future of transportation.

Can self-driving cars handle the chaos of an airport drop-off terminal?

If you've ever dropped someone off at a busy international airport, you're likely familiar with how messy and chaotic the entire process can be. Cars are often found parked in random spots, people and their baggage are all over the place, and it's easy to get into a fender-bender if you're not careful. That makes Waymo's latest expansion sound ambitious, if not appealing — imagine a future in which cars can all talk with each other, making airport drop-offs a smooth, hassle-free experience.

The new initiative involves the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which is among the top 10 most busy airports in the world. Waymo says that it started driving its vehicles to the airport back in May, a testing process that involved its own employees. Now the company's so-called Trusted Testers have the opportunity to order a paid ride to the airport in one of the same autonomous vehicles — in this case, the Jaguar I-PACE EV packing Waymo's fifth-gen Driver platform.

The ride option will be operating between Phoenix Sky Harbor and downtown, and Waymo is offering the rides in partnership with the airport. As such, the company's cars will take passengers to the 44th Street Sky Train station, where Waymo says they'll also pick up passengers who have arrived at the airport. Ultimately, the company describes the new service as an opportunity for it to gather more data that'll be used to improve the autonomous technologies, as well as to get more feedback from a greater number of riders.