After suspending its self-driving operations at the end of March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waymo has announced it will resume driving operations on May 11 in Arizona.
Waymo will start its driving operations in the Phoenix area again, a decision the company says it made after discussions with “our teams, partners and local and state authorities,” before restoring them in other cities, including San Francisco, Detroit and Los Angeles.
Arizona’s stay at home order expires on May 15, but academic experts have expressed concern that Arizona hasn’t reached the peak of its COVID-19 outbreak yet and some who worked with the state government recently told the Washington Post that they were asked to “pause” work on projections and modeling.
The company’s announcement says this is the first step in a “tiered approach to safely resume our operations,” starting with its test fleet and then eventually offering Waymo One, its self-driving ride hailing service, again.
Waymo said it is following safety guidance from local and state governments, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Safety measures Waymo has implemented include requiring personnel to wear face masks in its facilities or vehicles, unless someone is driving alone in a vehicle and a partnership with AutoNation to clean cars several times a day.
The company says it has also limited maximum capacity and put in social distancing guidelines for its work areas, created health and safety training for its team and will work with occupational healthcare providers to screen people before they enter facilities.