- Waymo has officially launched in commercial self-driving service in Phoenix.
- The service is called “Waymo One.”
- It will be opening initially just to early riders who have been testing the service.
- Waymo drivers will continue to supervise the Chrysler Pacifica minivans as Waymo One is rolled out.
Waymo is finally hitting the road for real.
After racking up 10 million driverless miles in a decade of history, Alphabet’s autonomous technology rolled out commercially in Phoenix on Wednesday.
The launch was low-key – Waymo is limiting initial ridership to a Phoenix group of 400 people that has been testing the service – but the ride-hailing business has a new name. Sort of.
“Today, we’re taking the next step in our journey with the introduction of our commercial self-driving service, Waymo One,” John Krafcik, Waymo’s CEO, said in a statement.
- Read more:
- A Waymo engineer told us why a virtual-world simulation is crucial to the future of self-driving cars
“We’ll first offer Waymo One to hundreds of early riders who have already been using our technology. Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public as we add vehicles and drive in more places. Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully with the comfort and convenience of our riders in mind.”
Critically, at this juncture, customers won’t yet a see an empty, robot-driven Chrysler Pacifica minivan with a Waymo logo pull up when they summon a ride via the Waymo smartphone app.
“At first, Waymo-trained drivers will supervise our Waymo One vehicles,” Krafcik said.
The app-based service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Riders “can use it to get around several cities in the Metro Phoenix area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert,” Waymo explained, adding that they will “see price estimates before they accept the trip based on factors like the time and distance to their destination.”
Waymo is one of two fully autonomous ride-hailing services that have planned to launch in 2018 and 2019 – the other in General Motors’ Cruise. Valuations for both companies have risen dramatically in the past year, as investors have assessed the potential for driverless taxi services. Cruise is now worth $US14.6 billion, and Morgan Stanley has argued that Waymo would be worth $US175 billion.