Waymo's commercial driverless car service is set to launch in early December, according to someone familiar with the company's plans (via Bloomberg). The service won't be branded as a "Waymo" platform, however, and will receive a new name and compete directly with car-hailing apps Uber and Lyft.

waymo program
The launch will be small, with only a couple hundred authorized riders in the suburbs around Phoenix, Arizona and covering about 100 square miles. This is the same tactic that Waymo has used in previous tests, and reports about the upcoming autonomous ride-hailing service being tested in Arizona began appearing one year ago.

It's believed that the first group of customers for the service will be taken from Waymo's Early Rider Program, which is made up of 400 volunteer families who have been using Waymo since the spring of 2017. The families who signed up for that program would be released from their non-disclosure agreements under the new driverless service, and encouraged to share their experiences on social media or even take friends for rides.

The service won't be completely driverless out of the gate, it seems. According to those familiar with the plans, there will be backup drivers in some cars "to help ease customers into the service," and to take over driving if necessary. Based on Waymo's accumulated data, the modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans will still drive themselves more than 99.9 percent of the time.

Over time, Waymo wants to plant the seeds of the driverless car service in different cities across the United States, but it will take some time because the company hopes to avoid bad customer experiences and avoidable crashes that could set it back by years. As for pricing, nothing is certain yet, but Waymo is planning to offer fares that are competitive with Uber and Lyft.

Tag: Waymo

Top Rated Comments

thisisnotmyname Avatar
49 months ago
When these become completely autonomous with no safety driver up front...what's to stop some mischievous teenage rascals from completely thrashing the vehicle on a joy ride just for the heck of it? Without an adult supervisor in the car, these autonomous vehicles are gunna get trashed. Or at least tagged to beyond recognition with graffiti.
Cameras in the cars and remote surveillance.

Edit to add: and having your card on file so they can auto-bill you for all the damage.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kwikdeth Avatar
49 months ago

ago. It's still only able to drive in a small, 10 mile by 10 mile patch of the Arizona desert.
You are comically misinformed. The way of vehicles have been driving in the Metro Phoenix area for two plus years now. It's a common sight to see several of these cars on the road. Last week I saw three at the same stoplight. But I guess if you want to call a metro area with ~4 million people a "small patch of desert", you do you....
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AronDraws Avatar
49 months ago
Bring on the Johnny Cab!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RichTF Avatar
49 months ago
Cameras in the cars and remote surveillance.

Edit to add: and having your card on file so they can auto-bill you for all the damage.
Yeah exactly, you’d be trashing something that is *literally* designed to pay close attention to its surroundings 100% of the time. Don’t fancy your chances in court… :D
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newyorksole Avatar
49 months ago
Very interesting. I’m in NYC and have yet to see a driverless car, but the sound of them definitely scare me a bit Lol.

I would really have to see it to believe it. Especially in a place like NYC where there’s so much construction and some roads don’t have lanes hahah.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tl01 Avatar
49 months ago
Very interesting. I’m in NYC and have yet to see a driverless car, but the sound of them definitely scare me a bit Lol.

I would really have to see it to believe it. Especially in a place like NYC where there’s so much construction and some roads don’t have lanes hahah.
I was just in NYC and I’m not sure about autonomous cars there...unless all of the cars are. The drivers and traffic and pedestrians are so unpredictable there! If all the cars were autonomous then they could talk to each other and I could see that working..... I drive in LA everyday and that is so much easier than NYC!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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