Waymo moves its Austin team to other locations
Waymo’s Austin, Texas, office is closing, but since there wasn’t any self-driving testing happening there anyway, it’s more of a relocation hassle for its employees and contractors than a full-blown shutdown. Austin is where Waymo lists the first fully self-driving ride on public roads in its first Firefly vehicle in 2015.
Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car unit that spun out of Google, tests its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans and more recently, electric Jaguar I-Pace compact SUVs, in the Bay Area, as well as other parts of California, Phoenix, Detroit, and elsewhere in the country. Phoenix is the only location where Waymo One, the publicly (but limitedly) available robo-taxi service, picks up riders.
In a statement, Waymo explained the Austin relocation: “Waymo is growing our investment and teams in both the Detroit and Phoenix areas, and we want to bring our operations teams together in these locations to best support our riders and our ride-hailing service.”
All employees will be offered transfers to Detroit and Phoenix and “staffing partners” (also known as contractors) will also get transition pay and any relocation assistance. CNBC reported that Austin workers helped with rider support and fleet assistance.
The Austin office was small, about 10 employees and other contractors. Its Glassdoor jobs review page wasn’t so stellar, with only 1.2 out of five stars. One former fleet systems operator wrote in a review, “Everything is unorganized, so they label it as ‘changing daily’ or ‘dynamic work environment.’ No. It’s just messy.” The main Waymo listing has a three-star rating.
Elsewhere in the self-driving car world, Uber’s team started driving in Dallas, Texas. But Uber is taking it slow with only manual driving to collect data for mapping. Meanwhile, Lyft posted on Friday that it was driving four times more autonomous miles than six months ago with more self-driving cars (also Chrysler Pacifica minivans, like Waymo) and more employee test rides at its Palo Alto Level 5 facility.