Google’s autonomous vehicle operation, Waymo, announced it will allow the public to start evaluating its fleet of self-driving vehicles on an everyday basis in an “early rider” program that’s preparing to launch in the Phoenix metro area. As part of this expanded effort, Waymo said it will add 500 more specially outfitted Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids to the 100 it currently owns. Production of these new Pacificas will start next month.

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“The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is a versatile vehicle for our early rider program, which will give people access to our self-driving fleet to use every day, at any time,” noted John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. “This collaboration is helping both companies learn how to bring self-driving cars to market, and realize the safety and mobility benefits of this technology.” To date, vehicles equipped with Waymo’s self-driving software have racked up nearly 3 million miles on-road as well as billions more in simulations.

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While the program will focus on Waymo’s fleet of Pacifica Hybrids, those who sign up for the early rider program also will have access to the organization’s self-driving Lexus LX450h models. To qualify, an applicant must be at least 18 years of age and live in the Phoenix metro area, which includes Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. Waymo hopes to gather data from individuals with a broad cross-section of transportation needs and will seek feedback that can help to shape the future of how its vehicles will actually function out in the real world. More details can be found at

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