Ride hailing companies like Waymo, Uber, and Cruise are suspending self-driving tests that have human drivers in an attempt to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Waymo, Alphabet‘s self-driving division, announced yesterday that it would pause its self-driving taxi services in Phoenix, Arizona, Reuters reports. Its fully autonomous services will continue, it added. In other words, if it has a safety driver, the service will cease, for now.
The autonomous transportation service also said it’s pausing its self-driving tests in California.
Waymo is not alone
The Alphabet subsidiary isn’t the only self-driving company to temporarily put the brakes on things. Argo, a sub-division of Ford, said it has also halted testing of its autonomous vehicles.
As has Pony.ai, the self-driving vehicle company that has a majority backing from Toyota, is also going to stop is “robotaxi” service in California for three weeks. It will continue to test self-driving vehicles in China, though.
Well-known ride hailing app, Uber, is also pausing its test track and public road testing of self-driving vehicles for an indefinite period.
General Motors owned Cruise joins Pony.ai in pausing its operations and closing its San Francisco for three weeks. As per the report, test operators will still be paid for any days they would have worked during this period.
On one hand, fully self-driving cars sound like a boon in times of self-isolation, as they lessen human-to-human contact. However, viruses can still spread via door handles and other surfaces passengers might touch, so it sounds like a wise move.
Published March 18, 2020 — 11:51 UTC