Waymo Wants to Help You Be Productive While Riding in a Driverless Taxi
Waymo's driverless taxis take keeping eyes on the road off the to-do lists of passengers. So what to do with all that free time? The Alphabet subsidiary thinks a new test service will help riders make the most of their commute or other rides.
Passengers in a test group in the Phoenix, Ariz. area can now use complimentary in-car Wi-Fi, a Waymo spokesperson confirmed to Fortune.
Waymo's Early Rider Program—which has signed up 1,000 riders in Phoenix—uses hundreds of robotaxis. The company wouldn't disclose how many of those vehicles are equipped with Wi-Fi.
Waymo says it plans to listen to feedback from the test group before it makes any decisions about rolling out Wi-Fi more broadly in the future. The company previously tested free Google Play Music streaming in its robotaxis before it rolled it out to its entire rider base in April.
Some of the test subjects are city employees from Chandler, Ariz., where Waymo first rolled out its self-driving taxis in 2016.
Several dozen Chandler employees, now allowed to expense Waymo rides for work-related trips, will be commuter test subjects. The city plans to study employee productivity to see whether riding in a self-driving taxi makes people more productive than they would be when driving their own vehicles.
Amenities like Wi-Fi and Google Play Music are one way for Waymo to differentiate itself from the competition. Companies including Uber, Lyft, and Aptiv are also getting into the self-driving taxi market.