Getting ready for more early riders in Phoenix

By: Ellice Perez, Head of Operations

We launched our early rider program in Phoenix in April 2017, and today, hundreds of riders are using our fully self-driving vehicles to get around every day, with even more joining throughout the summer. To run this self-driving service, we rely on our local operations teams to maintain our vehicles, manage fleet logistics, and provide around-the-clock support to our riders.

We’ve been busy growing these teams and building out our operations in Phoenix. Recently, we doubled the size of our operations center in Chandler, which will help us increase our fleet capacity and hire even more local talent for our test driving, fleet operations, and rider support teams there.

Waymo vehicles in our Chandler operations center, ready for the day

What do all those teams do? Let’s take a look at what happens inside our operations center to ensure that our self-driving cars are safe, reliable, and easy to use for our riders.

Behind the scenes at our operations center

At any given moment, you’ll find our operations center buzzing with teams doing everything from fine-tuning our vehicles to answering real-time rider questions about their trip. Four teams are based in our Chandler center: fleet technicians, fleet dispatch, fleet response, and rider support. Each plays a key role in creating a safe and enjoyable rider experience.

Our vehicles coming and going throughout the day

Fleet Technicians: Our vehicles are equipped with self-driving sensors, designed in-house by Waymo engineers, that help our vehicles “see” and safely navigate the world around them. Keeping this hardware in tip-top shape is the job of our fleet technicians, who conduct regular maintenance checks on our self-driving systems. Think of these like the pre-flight checks performed on planes before they’re cleared for takeoff.

One of our fleet technicians checking up on a vehicle

Fleet Dispatch: To efficiently accommodate our early riders’ demand, this team makes sure we always have the right number of vehicles out on the road. Fleet dispatchers also play an important role as we continue to expand our service area and driving capabilities: they manage our fleet of mapping and test vehicles and send our trained drivers out on driving “missions” to test new features and gain real world experience.

Fleet Response: Our self-driving system is designed to identify changing road conditions that might affect the ordinary flow of traffic. In these highly contextual situations, our vehicles can automatically call on our fleet response team to weigh in with an extra set of eyes. While the vehicle remains entirely responsible for its safe operation, the confirmation provided by this team can help make a journey more convenient for riders. Take a road closure for example: if one of our vehicles detects that a road is blocked up ahead, it may come to a stop and request confirmation from our fleet response team before plotting an alternate route. Once the blockage is verified, our vehicle decides the best way to proceed, and our specialists can then share this intel with the rest of the fleet so that our vehicles can route trips to avoid this area.

Rider Support: For many people, their first ride in a Waymo vehicle is their first experience with fully self-driving technology. Our rider support team is on hand to make this experience as smooth as possible. With the tap of a button on our in-car console or through the Waymo app, riders can instantly connect to a rider support agent with any questions they have — from “How can I connect my music?” to “What if I want to change my destination during the trip?” Rider support is also available in case of an emergency or if riders leave something behind in the vehicle.

An agent on our rider support team speaking with one of our early riders

With our fleet technicians, dispatchers, responders, and rider support agents always hard at work, our self-driving cars can move our riders safely from point A to point B everyday.

To learn more about our open roles in Phoenix, please visit https://waymo.com/joinus/.

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