The City of Chandler, Ariz., is piloting an autonomous vehicle ride-hailing program with Waymo for select city employees. Select employees will be able to hail a ride using Waymo vehicles instead of checking out motor pool vehicles. The program will evaluate employee productivity while commuting to and from off-site work meetings as well as potential fleet services cost savings. The program began in June will run for at least one year.
“We’ve worked closely with Waymo for the past several years and it’s a natural progression to utilize their technology,” said Mayor Kevin Hartke in a release. “Our city is an innovation and technology hub; in fact, Chandler has been dubbed the Self-Driving Capital of the World in media reports. We’re proud to have another innovative first with this partnership to explore increased productivity and cost savings related to our motor pool fleet.”
Several dozen employees will participate in the program. When these employees have an off-site work meeting, they can use the Waymo app to schedule a ride within the Waymo service area, which includes large portions of Chandler as well as neighboring cities. There will be a designated autonomous vehicle pick-up and drop-off spot at Chandler City Hall.
Micah Miranda, economic development director for Chandler, explained that allowing employees to use autonomous vehicles may improve their efficiency.
“We have a very strict code that doesn’t allow for employees to access telecommunications devices in vehicles [while driving],” he said. If they’re not responsible for driving, they could be responding to e-mails, for example.
Another potential benefit is a reduction in motor pool vehicles, which Miranda said can be costly to purchase and maintain. The city fleet currently has 21 motor pool vehicles, and he anticipates these will remain in place for the duration of the program.
The city has set aside $30,000 for this project. All work-related rides will be charged to employees’ purchasing cards. After every trip, employees must complete a rider survey and submit receipts via e-mail.