Autonomous car trials, especially those with backup drivers, are being impacted by COVID-19.
Alphabet’s Waymo is pausing its ride-hailing services that use backup, safety drivers in California and Arizona.
“In the interest of the health and safety of our riders and the entire Waymo community, we’re pausing our Waymo One service with trained drivers in Metro Phoenix for now as we continue to watch COVID-19 developments,” Waymo stated in a blog post.
However, fully driverless operations in Phoenix will continue with Waymo’s early rider program, as well as local delivery efforts in autonomous vehicles and truck testing.
“We can carry out driverless, delivery and trucking services for our riders and partners while respecting the important social distancing and hygiene guidelines shared by the CDC and local authorities,” states the announcement.
Waymo is not alone in altering autonomous vehicle trials.
Pony.ai, which recently received a $400 million investment from Toyota, announced that it is halting PonyPilot’s public service in California “for three weeks tentatively” due to COVID-19.
The company has been running a robotaxi service in Irvine since 2019.
Other self-driving vehicle tests, such as by Uber and Cruise, also are being suspended.