(Bloomberg) -- Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s driverless-vehicle unit, plans to expand its autonomous taxi service in San Francisco and the greater Phoenix area, its two main markets.
In the Phoenix area, Waymo is rolling out its service in Scottsdale and expanding coverage in the nearby cities of Tempe, Chandler and Mesa. With these additions, Waymo will operate in 180 square miles in the region, which it said was “the largest fully autonomous service area in the world.”
The company also said it would begin offering trips in new neighborhoods in San Francisco. Waymo is still waiting to receive a permit that will allow it to charge for rides in the city.
“What you can expect from us is we’ve crossed 10,000 fully autonomous trips with riders, and we will 10x that over the course of the next year,” Chief Product Officer Saswat Panigrahi said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday.
Waymo said it’s seeing “pretty healthy” ridership, and it’s retaining customers in the markets it operates in. In San Francisco, Waymo has a waitlist of around “tens of thousands” to use the service, Panigrahi said.
As the company expands, the focus is shifting from amassing more miles driven to offering a better service, Panigrahi said at an earlier press briefing. Waymo has seen users turning to its taxis for transportation on date nights, embracing the privacy that the self-driving service affords, and late-night trips when they might otherwise be concerned about safety.
“Our focus is serving riders and bringing the benefits of autonomy to more and more people,” he said.
He added that the company continues to test autonomous trucks, though he declined to share a timetable for a commercial launch.
--With assistance from Ed Ludlow.
(Updates with Bloomberg Television interview starting in fourth paragraph.)
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