Chandler Will Partner With Waymo To Transport City Employees

By Grayson Schmidt
Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 9:05am
Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 2:47pm

waymo car
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
A Waymo self-driving car.

A select group of Chandler city employees won’t have to drive to and from off-site work meetings for the next year. In fact, no one will be driving at all, thanks to a partnership with the autonomous vehicle company Waymo.

The program kicks off this month and will serve as a test-run to evaluate employee productivity and savings in fleet service costs. And despite recent issues with self-driving cars in the Valley, Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke feels the program is completely safe for employees and residents. 

“They really know our streets better than I think we do in some situations, which is really cool. So I think it's a very safe event; I think they have the information and the sensors that exceed what a driver can do.”

Hartke says the program is open to a few dozen employees who have volunteered or are frequently required to work off-site. Currently, Hartke said that every road in Chandler has been mapped by Waymo and that is continuing in surrounding cities. 

Hartke hopes that this test-run will lead to a permanent partnership with Waymo, and open the city up to more tech partnerships. 

“I think the partnership will grow, and for us again, it’s twofold,” Hartke said. “Can we continue to be ground zero, where autonomous vehicle technology is expanding ... and can we help the business model as well as the technology, in terms of their vitality and viability, as they continue to grow?”

Dezbah Hatathli, policy and community manager for Waymo in Chandler, said in statement: “We’ve been driving in Chandler for more than three years and the city has been extremely supportive of our work to deploy self-driving technology to make our roads safer. We’re thrilled that city employees will now be able to ride in Waymo vehicles to get around for work."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Waymo.