Google-owned mapping company Waze is launching a ride-sharing app in Israel

Waze CEO Noam BardinGetty/HandoutWaze CEO Noam Bardin

Waze, an Israeli mapping company owned by Google, is launching a carpooling app called RideWith, Tech.eu reports.

This week Google and Waze will start a pilot project around Tel Aviv, and use the feedback to tweak the app for a wider release in Israel and other countries. It isn’t clear which markets these might be, but we have reached out to the company for more details.

Google acquired mapping firm Waze, which uses location information shared by people using the app to provide others with details of any traffic or route problems, for $US1 billion in June 2013.

According to Haaretz, RideWith will use Waze’s navigation system to match drivers up with passengers who normally take a similar route from home to work at the same time. Passengers will pay drivers a small fee for the ride. There are a few big limitations to the service which would probably stop it running into the same problems as Uber has, though. Drivers will only be able to make two trips a day — the trips they would normally be making from home to work, and back again. This means that drivers wouldn’t be able to make taking passengers into a business.

This is different to the way other taxi-hailing apps like Uber, Lyft, and Israeli competitor Gett operate. But if RideWith does end up rolling out in other markets, it could still compete with them on the morning commute. It would also compete directly with carpooling apps like BlaBlaCar, which has acquired German rival Carpooling.com, and just launched in Turkey, Tech.eu reports.

Uber launched its services in Israel in August 2014, but only managed to pilot Uber X for 48 hours that November, Haaretz reports. The company is expected to proceed with a regulatory battle so that Uber X can operate legally in Israel. The country’s transportation minster, Yisrael Katz, said that he intends to protect ordinary taxi drivers from losing out to Uber’s budget taxi service.

But because of the limitations on how much a passenger can pay a driver — the rate suggested by Google for a trip from Tel Aviv to Herzliya will be 13 shekels ($US3.46, or £2.21); — and how many trips a driver can take, RideWith doesn’t expect to come up against any regulatory issues, Haaretz says.

To begin with, the pilot will be limited to three places — Tel Aviv, Ra’anana and Herzliya, cities just to the north of Tel Aviv, where a lot of tech companies are based. According to Haaretz, about 200,000 employees in Israel already carpool to work.

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