Waymo Could Launch Its First Driverless Ride Service in December
Waymo, the self-driving technology subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., is reportedly preparing to launch the first driverless car service next month, which could present more competition for the ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft.
A person familiar with the company’s plans said the driverless car service could roll out its service in early December, but is keeping the name a secret until the company’s formal announcement, according to Bloomberg. The service is expected to launch in Phoenix, Arizona, where the company currently has a depot of self-driving cars, including hundreds of modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
“Waymo has been working on self-driving technology for nearly a decade, with safety at the core of everything we do,” the company said to Bloomberg in an emailed statement.
According to the report, some cars will still include backup drivers who can take control of the ride if necessary. The service won’t be available in nationwide app stores just yet, though. Instead, it will start with dozens to hundreds of authorized riders in Phoenix, which will likely come from Waymo’s Early Rider Program of 400 volunteers.
The fares will also match prices of Uber and Lyft rides, making for steep competition between the ride hailing services, according to the Verge. But the company will start slow with a program first in Phoenix, and later introduced in other metropolitan areas, like Silicon Valley, where Waymo already has self-driving vehicles.