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Engineering  |  TOMNET UTC

Valley Metro – Waymo Research Study

NOTE:  We appreciate your interest in this study.  The Expression of Interest period is now closed.  If you would like to include your name on a wait list of interested individuals, please e-mail Tassio Magassy at tmagassy@asu.edu.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What is Waymo?
    Waymo is a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around. Waymo is developing self-driving technology that will allow vehicles to navigate our streets and highways on their own without the need for a human driver. For more information, visit www.waymo.com

 

  • Where can I ride?
    You can go wherever you like in the Waymo service territory. Waymo goes to most residential and commercial areas in the East Valley: north of W Chandler Heights Rd, south of Broadway Road, west of Mesa Drive/McQueen, and east of 48th street.

 

  • Are the limits of the Waymo service territory hard boundaries?
    Yes, the boundaries are fixed at this time.  Waymo is constantly testing vehicles in the valley so that additional areas can be served by the self-driving technology.  Although the service area may expand during the period of the research study, participants should not count on it.

 

  • Can I go to the Saguaro Library on 46th Street?
    No, this location is outside the territory covered by Waymo self-driving technology.  However, you can use other regular RideChoice service to go to this location (or any other location that is outside the Waymo territory).

 

  • Is there a visual map of the region where I can ride?
    Yes, the map of the region served by Waymo may be found below (Source)  

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  • Does the car enter gated communities?
    No, the Waymo vehicles do not enter gated communities. The vehicle will drop you off at the gate and you will need to reach your final destination on your own or with the help of a Personal Care Attendant (PCA).  
    Although there is currently a Waymo driver monitoring the vehicle, the driver is not permitted to provide personal assistance to passengers as this would change the nature of the research being conducted.

 

  • Does the program provide door-to-door service?
    No. Waymo provides curb-to-curb service, meaning that the Waymo vehicle will meet the rider at the nearest curb or parking area near the rider’s pick-up address and will transport the rider to the curb or parking area near the rider’s destination. Riders are expected to navigate to and from the vehicle on their own or with the assistance of a PCA.  Waymo drivers are not permitted to provide assistance to and from the vehicle.

 

  • What does this cost?
    Waymo fares are the same as for other RideChoice trips: $3.00 per one-way trip.

 

  • How far can I go with the $3 flat fee?
    You may travel anywhere within the Waymo service territory for $3.00.  If the start or end of your trip falls outside the Waymo territory, then you will need to use a regular RideChoice service provider. All trips served by existing RideChoice service providers (any company other than Waymo) are subject to current rules of the RideChoice program. RideChoice costs $3 for each trip up to 8 miles, with any additional miles costing $2 per mile.

 

  • Will there be a person in the driver’s seat?
    Yes, Waymo cars have a Waymo trained safety driver in the self-driving car to watch over the car and leave feedback for the engineers.

 

  • How will I receive the incentive amount for study participation?
    The incentive amount will be provided in the form of pre-paid visa gift cards.  The gift cards will be mailed to your home address throughout the duration of the experiment as you fulfill the requirements of the research study. You will receive the first $100 gift card as soon as you enroll in the research study and complete your first Waymo trip.  Additional gift cards will be mailed to you at regular intervals during the study. Individuals who successfully complete all steps and requirements of the study can earn up to $600 in total.  It is likely that participants will receive an amount less than this due to the actual duration of the study.

 

  • What are the steps I need to complete to receive the incentives?
    We will guide you every step of the way to ensure the success of your participation in the research study. The initial steps are as follows:
    1. Complete the interest form
    2. Await confirmation that you are eligible to participate in the study
    3. Complete the pre-survey form
    4. Ride Waymo at least once a week for five months (you will receive a $100 gift card for each month that you take at least one Waymo ride per week)
    5. Complete all of the surveys that are sent to you throughout the duration of the study
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  • When am I going to receive the rewards?
    You will generally receive your reward gift card at the end of each month, upon successful completion of all study requirements and completion of all surveys for the month.

 

  • Where is the money coming from?
    This research study is funded by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration. The agency is interested in exploring the use of self-driving car technology to meet the transportation needs of the community. The sponsor of the research study (US Department of Transportation) provides the funds for the gift cards that will be sent to study participants who fulfill all study requirements.

 

  • What are the requirements to qualify and be eligible for the rewards?
    In order to be eligible to participate in the study, you must have a smartphone purchased in the last 4 years, and live within the Waymo Service Area. You also must be able to do the following on your own or with the assistance of a Personal Care Attendant (PCA):
    1. Download and install a mobile app on your smartphone.
    2. Use a mobile app to book, check on, and/or cancel trips.
    3. Pay for trips using a mobile app  with a linked credit or debit card.
    4. Navigate to or from a self-driving vehicle, recognizing that the vehicle may be located up to 300 yards from your location, depending on traffic conditions and the availability of parking in the area where you will begin or end your trip. 
    5. Board, secure yourself, and ride in a self-driving vehicle (standard minivan). Please note that Waymo vehicles do not currently accommodate people who use certain mobility devices or people who cannot safely enter and exit a standard minivan that is not equipped with a lift or ramp. Walkers can be accommodated in the Waymo vehicle.
    6. Carry and secure your own possessions within the vehicle. Please note: Waymo vehicles do not have an available trunk.
    7. Speak and understand English sufficiently to communicate with support staff if necessary, either by phone or in person.
    8. Speak, write, and understand English sufficiently to complete surveys documenting your experience as a participant in this research study.

 

  • Can I participate in the study, even if I do not meet the criteria for the financial incentives?
    As long as you meet the criteria noted above, you can participate in the study.  The incentives will be provided only to those who meet the minimum ride requirement (at least one Waymo ride per week) and complete all surveys.

 

  • I signed up, what’s next?
    A representative from Waymo, Valley Metro, or ASU (the study team) will contact you to initiate next steps. Please be patient as it may take a representative a few weeks to reach you.

 

  • When does the program start?
    We expect participants will be able to start taking Waymo rides by the end of August or early in September.

 

  • How are the rides booked? And how are the fares collected?
    The Waymo rides are booked through a smartphone app. A Waymo ride cannot be summoned or requested by phone or any other means. Similarly, fares for Waymo rides are collected exclusively through the app using a linked credit or debit card.

 

  • Can I still use other RideChoice companies if I participate in the program?
    Yes, you can continue to use other RideChoice company to meet your RideChoice trip needs that Waymo cannot meet.

 

  • Does the number of rides I get through RideChoice change if I participate on the Waymo program?
    No, there is no change in the number of rides you get through RideChoice.

 

  • What type of vehicle does Waymo use? 
    Waymo uses the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. The vehicle is not equipped with a ramp and cannot accommodate mobility devices.

 

  • Is this the first time Waymo is being implemented for a program like RideChoice?
    Yes, this is the first time Waymo is being used for a program like RideChoice anywhere in the country.

 

  • What is the duration of the program?
    The program duration may be up to six months.  Please note that the study duration is likely to be less than six months.

 

  • What if interruptions occur in the six-month duration of the program due to personal reasons (e.g. vacation, out-of-town visit, etc.)?
    The reward will be offered on monthly basis and 4 consecutive weeks will be considered as 1 month. The reward will not be provided for the month that you miss. You can participate and receive awards for any selected months within this study period.  We ask that participants commit to a minimum participation of 3 months.

 

  • Can I participate in the program if I do not have/use email?
    Yes, you can. We can mail you the survey questionnaire as well as a postage-paid envelope.  Then, you can fill it out and mail it back to us. Alternatively, we can administer the survey to you over the phone and complete the survey for you based on answers you provide over the phone.

 

  • What are the operating hours of the Waymo service? 
    The Waymo program offers 24/7/365 service like the current RideChoice program.

 

  • Is there a maximum number of trips that I can make using Waymo?
    There is no restriction on daily use but the maximum number of trips or rides allowed is 50 for each month.

 

  • How many passengers can I ride with in a Waymo vehicle?
    The vehicle being used by Waymo is a minivan, which can accommodate up to three adults, not including the driver. In addition, all vans have a child seat installed and a booster seat for bigger kids is tucked away in the back.  So, an additional child may be accommodated if the child can utilize the child seat.

 

If you have any additional questions about the study, please call Tassio Magassy or Denise Silva at 480-727-3613.