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March 21, 2022

To our fellow San Franciscans

  • , waymo one

ThumbnailOur mission at Waymo is to make it safer and easier for people and things to get where they’re going.

It’s in our name, which originated from the belief that there must be a better way forward in mobility.

Here in San Francisco, we are privileged to share the road with everyone who makes up this city: the cyclists, drivers, passengers, transit riders, pedestrians, and members of our own Trusted Tester program.

This month marks six months since San Franciscans started riding with us as our first Trusted Testers.
During that time, hundreds of the city’s residents have volunteered to help us roll out and refine our service and scale our operations safely. They’re from all walks of life and live throughout the city—from Lands End to Hunters Point—and they’ve been making our Waymo One™ service part of their daily lives, day and night.

This is particularly meaningful to our team at Waymo. The Bay Area is where many of us work and call home, so we acutely feel the challenges of San Francisco’s roadways—where hundreds of people are severely injured every year and 33 people lost their lives in 2021 —along with the opportunity for autonomously driven vehicles to improve the safety of these very roads.

We know many of you feel the same—like one of our Trusted Testers, Christine, who lives in the Sunset neighborhood, and uses Waymo One to take her five-year-old son to and from school in the Marina. Before riding with Waymo, she had been involved in multiple collisions in San Francisco where the other driver was found to be distracted. She looks forward to the safety benefits of autonomous driving technology that consistently pays attention to other road users.

Christine’s story reminds me not just of the Waymo Driver’s potential safety benefits for our riders, but also for our communities.

That’s why we’re determined to be good neighbors—to have a meaningful presence in San Francisco, not merely be present. We engage closely with the city, nonprofits, and community groups, including The Richmond District Neighborhood Center, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the SF LGBT Center. These relationships have helped us better understand the community values, accessibility needs and transportation priorities of San Franciscans. In turn, they have informed how we’ve introduced our technology to this unique city through providing a diverse set of riders for our Trusted Tester program in terms of age and ability level.

It’s also why we’ve recruited a diverse set of Trusted Testers who live throughout the neighborhoods we operate in and come from varied backgrounds. We’re committed to building a product that San Franciscans of all walks of life can use in their daily lives.

For example, lifelong San Francisco resident Rolinda, who lives in Sunnyside, has been using Waymo One to get to medical appointments and enjoy days out without having to worry about parking. And John Michael, who moved to San Francisco 18 months ago, has been using Waymo One to explore his new city and hit up Tuesday jazz nights at Club Deluxe in the Haight.

I’m grateful to all of our riders for the trust they’ve placed in our service. The consistent feedback we’ve been able to gather from hundreds of riders is allowing us to learn valuable, subtle information about rider preferences helping us finely tune the Waymo Driver to maximize rider comfort and convenience.

For example:

We’ve made careful improvements to our braking patterns to handle San Francisco’s many four-way stops even more smoothly.

We’ve tweaked how we drive on San Francisco’s many steep hills to provide an even more comfortable, natural riding experience.

We’re prioritizing parking lots for pick-up and drop-off points, which not only provides our riders with trusted locations to hail a ride, but also preserves valuable curb space for other road users—particularly important in a city as dense as San Francisco.

Our choice of an electric-only fleet for our ride-hailing operations in San Francisco reflects not only our own commitment to sustainability—but also feedback we’ve received from our community.

Product updates like these are the result of careful improvements we’ve been making to the Waymo Driver as we expand our operations with the feedback from our Trusted Testers. As a result, we’re now ready to begin introducing the Waymo Driver in fully autonomous mode—with no specialist behind the wheel—in the city as a major step on our path to deploying a fully autonomous commercial service. We’ve made this decision after carefully benchmarking the Waymo Driver’s performance against our safety evaluation methodologies (You can read more about how we apply our safety framework to San Francisco here.)

Finally, I’m also grateful to every member of the team at Waymo for their efforts to make our roads safer and mobility options more accessible. I’m very excited about the milestones ahead as we welcome more San Franciscans to ride with us in the future.

We have much more to come over the next few months, and can’t wait to share more soon.

With thanks,
Tekedra Mawakana
Co-CEO, Waymo