Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving unit will establish a second technical service center in Phoenix as it looks to introduce more self-driving prototypes in the city.
Tech Crunch reports that the 85,000-square-foot center will be located in Mesa and will open in the second half of the year. Waymo already has a 60,000-square-foot facility in Chandler and currently operates its autonomous prototypes through the suburbs of Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert and Mesa.
Waymo currently has 600 of its self-driving vehicles operating around the world, most of which are located in Phoenix. The new facility will serve as a second dispatch center for the technology company and also be used as a location to maintain, clean, and manage its growing fleet.
While many car manufacturers and tech companies predominately test their self-driving vehicles in California, Waymo operates primarily in Phoenix and intends on eventually covering a significant part of the city’s 600 square miles.
The relationship between Waymo and certain residents in Arizona hasn’t always been friendly. A report from The New York Times in early January stated that there have been roughly two dozen attacks on Waymo test vehicles in Phoenix throughout the last two years. In some cases, rocks have been thrown at the vehicles, tires have been slashed, and drivers have tried to run the Waymo vehicles off the road, while in one incident, a man waved a .22-caliber gun at a Waymo employee.
A number of Waymo safety drivers have also reported locals yelling at them for testing through local streets. Not that this seems to deter the company from going on with its plans anyway.