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Home » Waymo’s Robotaxis Hit the Streets of LA With Freebies for Early Riders

Waymo’s Robotaxis Hit the Streets of LA With Freebies for Early Riders

Google-Waymo robotaxis

After years of testing and buildup, Waymo is finally ready to offer its driverless robotaxi service to the general public in a major U.S. city. The self-driving pioneer announced that starting March 14th, select Los Angelenos can hail an autonomous Waymo vehicle with no human safety operator behind the wheel.

The rollout kicks off with free rides spanning a sizable 63-square-mile service area stretching from Santa Monica all the way to Downtown LA. But don’t snooze on claiming your freebie—Waymo says it will transition to paid fares for its “Waymo One” offering in just a few weeks’ time.

Those lucky enough to have already joined Waymo’s substantial LA waitlist, numbering over 50,000 prospective passengers, will get first crack at experiencing the robotaxis sans charge. Speaking of which, we’re sure many of those would-be riders are thrilled to finally get the autonomous ride they’ve been pining for.

Interestingly, Waymo confirmed it won’t be using LA’s extensive freeway network just yet as part of this initial public launch. The company is instead keeping things relatively tame by sticking to urban surface streets and lower speeds while it monitors how driverless operation plays out in the wild.

Meanwhile, Waymo’s autonomous taxi push is also coming to Austin, Texas later this year following some preliminary rider testing there last week. Clearly, the Google spin-off is keen on establishing an early foothold in multiple major metro areas.

The free ride promotions certainly seem aimed at seeding positive public perception and jumpstarting adoption. Jared Friedman says on X “I’ve noticed I reliably wait 20 minutes for a Waymo rather than wait 2 minutes for an Uber – I suspect that says a lot about the future prospects of the two products.”

However Waymo chooses to proceed from here, one thing is clear: After over a decade of promises about driverless mobility, the robotaxi future is finally pulling up to the public curb. Now it’s just a matter of seeing if people are ready to ditch steering wheels for good.

Related: Waymo Robo-cars: Safer than Your Grandma Behind the Wheel?