Waymo has taken a dual approach to operations on Election Day.
In San Francisco, where Waymo has been testing its autonomous vehicles, driving operations have been temporarily suspended Tuesday and Wednesday “out of an abundance of caution.” Its fleet of autonomous vehicles was moved Monday to nearby Mountain View, according to an internal email first reported by The Verge. Waymo has continued its testing operations on public roads in Mountain View, according to an email from Transdev, the vendor that Waymo has contracted with to staff its fleet operations. TechCrunch confirmed that Waymo has paused operations in San Francisco.
Over in Phoenix, where Waymo’s on-demand robotaxi service operates and shuttles actual customers, it’s business as usual. Waymo told TechCrunch that in Phoenix it “will continue to serve riders through our autonomous ride hailing service, in order to help facilitate travel to the polls, and will continue to closely monitor the situation in all cities where we operate. The safety of our team, riders and partners is of paramount importance.”
Waymo’s actions in San Francisco follow other businesses in the city, which have closed up shop and even boarded up windows over concern that civil unrest related to the election will boil over this week. Other AV companies such as Cruise and Zoox, which also test in San Francisco, have taken a wait-and-see approach.
Cruise, which has about 200 vehicles in its fleet and uses Aerotek to staff its driver operations, is monitoring events.
“Safety is our number one priority,” according to Cruise spokesperson Milin Mehta. “Our Operations team is monitoring the situation in real time, and has turnkey plans in place to ground the fleet and take all necessary steps to keep our team members safe.”
Cruise also gave all employees, including contract workers, the day off to vote.
Zoox, which has a smaller fleet of about 50 vehicles that are tested in San Francisco and near its Foster City headquarters, continued testing today, although paused operations earlier than usual. The company is also monitoring the situation for the rest of the week.
Uber Advanced Technologies Group has tested in San Francisco in the past, but currently only has test operations in Pittsburgh. The company is not operational today because it has given all employees the day off to volunteer and vote. Testing is expected to resume in Pittsburgh this week, although a company spokesperson noted that they will reassess if the environment changes.
Aurora, which tests in Pittsburgh, the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the Silicon Valley enclaves of Palo Alto and Mountain View, is continuing operations in those locations and will “change course if needed.”
Argo AI wouldn’t provide specifics on whether it was testing today or altering its operations due to Election Day. However, a spokesperson did say that the company “places safety as the No. 1 priority in all respects when it comes to our fleet testing operations and always monitors local environments where we operate and take whatever precautions are appropriate, no matter what day it is.”