Asking a friend or someone you’re dating to take you to the airport is a major step in a relationship, as it forces that person to experience a small percentage of the three to fours hours of misery you’re about to go through.
Fortunately the prospect of autonomous vehicles will not only eliminate this tension, but all the awkward small talk that comes after an Uber driving asking, “So where you headed?”
Waymo is expanding its autonomous vehicle robotaxis to the fun mess that is airport drop-offs and pickups in Phoenix. The Alphabet company claims it’s the first autonomous vehicle company to offer paid service to a major airport, which probably has something to do with the bumper car-like atmosphere that exists in the drop-off zone.
But since airport trips often account for a quickly growing percentage of manually driven rideshare trips, that’s plenty of potential robot tips.
The program will only be open to Waymo’s trusted testers at first, which means you’re approved and signed a nondisclosure agreement, in case the Phoenix robotaxi mistakenly takes you to the Boise airport or something.
The service will not put your bags in the trunk or give you a hug before departing, But riders will be able to hail a ride 24 hours a day, 7 days a week between Downtown Phoenix and Phoenix Sky Harbor, and will find themselves in an fully electric Jaguar I-PACE.
And as is the case with numerous experimental programs like these, the rides will initially use a human safety operator, and phase this person out over the weeks to come.
Do you tip the human safety operator? Tough question.