Waymo, the driverless taxi company and Google sibling, has temporarily taken all of its manned vehicles off the roads of Phoenix and California in a bid to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The move comes after safety drivers raised concerns about being exposed to the highly contagious virus as they transport paying customers to their destinations.
- Waymo's new driverless car can spot a stop sign 500 meters away
- Waymo self-driving cars to transport packages for UPS
- Lyft is distributing hand sanitizer to its drivers
However, Wayo says it will keep its fully driverless vehicles on the roads of Phoenix, highlighting how such cars which have no one inside them at all, can help transport passengers while lowering the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Waymo said in a statement on Twitter, below: "In the interest of the health and safety of our riders and the entire Waymo community, we're pausing our Waymo One service with trained drivers in Metro Phoenix for now as we continue to watch COVID-19 developments."
The company added: "We've also paused driving in California in line with local guidance. Our fully driverless operations in Phoenix will continue for now within our early rider program, along with our local delivery and truck testing."
Waymo points out how it can continue its truly driverless service, plus delivery and trucking services for its public riders and business partners, "while respecting the important social distancing and hygiene guidelines shared by the CDC and local authorities."
Looking to a future where driverless taxis are commonplace, Waymo said: "Removing the human driver holds great promise not only for making our roads safer, but for helping our riders stay healthy in these uncertain times."
Waymo first offered its truly driverless cars in Phoenix, Arizona in October 2019. At the same time it began manufacturing a fleet of autonomous Jaguar I-Pace electric cars, pictured at the top of this article, for offering a more luxurious ride-sharing experience. Waymo is also working on autonomous package deliveries with UPS, and driverless technology for semi trucks.