Waymo announced in a tweet today that it’s testing commercial routes for its self-driving Chrysler Pacificas and long-haul trucks in Texas and New Mexico. The company didn’t specify where in the states the vehicles would be heading, except to state that they’re “interesting and promising routes.”
Expanding its territory...maybe — Most of Waymo’s business still exists in Phoenix, AZ, where its ride-hailing service has almost 1,500 active monthly users. Waymo vehicles also make deliveries in the area. But sending Waymo vehicles to Texas and New Mexico is promising for the company’s physical expansion into other areas of the U.S. and beyond.
At CES this year, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said, “We’re considering moving to other cities.” That’s not much to go off of, but it does back up the idea of Waymo’s imminent expansion.
But this could also lead to nothing — Waymo’s tweet is abstract — “using our vehicles to explore how the Waymo Driver might be able to create new transportation solutions” doesn’t exactly tell us much. This could mean Waymo is just mapping out these areas, like the company did in downtown Los Angeles last year.
Waymo can’t stop yet — Sure, Waymo is doing great in select places. But Tesla is making consumer-grade autonomous vehicles, too, and Uber just bought 600 acres of land in Pittsburgh to continue developing its own self-driving technology. Uber also announced today that it's bringing its driverless cars to Washington, D.C. So Waymo will need to do more than just tread water in Phoenix if it wants to stay on top.