Waymo may launch autonomous ridehailing service as soon as October

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Alphabet's Waymo -- formerly the self-driving car division within Google -- is reportedly preparing to launch a commercial autonomous ridehailing service as soon as this fall, possibly even later this month.




Any pickups starting in October would take place in Phoenix, Ariz., where the company has already been offering limited rides as part of a test program, The Information said. It's not clear where else a service might operate, but Waymo's fleet is in many cases expected to run without any human backup -- a major though risky step forward on public roads.

Some vehicles could have drivers for longer trips, or places Waymo has yet to map. These may fall under the aegis of Lyft, with which Waymo partnered several months ago.

Alphabet executives Larry Page and Sergey Brin have allegedly been aggressive about autonomous ridehailing, wanting to launch a service as far back as last year. Waymo engineers are said to have talked management into accepting a "mixed" fleet.

Indeed some workers are said to be upset about Waymo CEO John Krafcik, complaining that he sided with Page and Brin on unrealistic deadlines and hiring freezes, perhaps partly because of a lack of technical knowledge about self-driving systems.

Apple's self-driving car project is also believed to be aimed at the ridehailing market. One step towards that goal is its "PAIL" (Palo Alto to Infinite Loop) shuttle.

At the moment, though, Apple is believed to be uninterested in launching a ridehailing service of its own, meaning it would have to sell technology to other firms or partner with them. One likely candidate is China's Didi Chuxing, which received a $1 billion investment from Apple and recently opened a self-driving car lab in Mountain View, not far from Apple's offices.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,945member
    Wow. Can’t wait to see it in action. 
    schlack
  • Reply 2 of 8
    schlackschlack Posts: 672member
    was just out in Phoenix a couple weeks ago...every 1-2 minutes I saw an autonomous car drive by (with backup driver), mostly Uber branded cars. there must have been hundreds of cars within a few square miles.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    schlack said:
    was just out in Phoenix a couple weeks ago...every 1-2 minutes I saw an autonomous car drive by (with backup driver), mostly Uber branded cars. there must have been hundreds of cars within a few square miles.
    How'd you recognize them? Are these SUVs with a massive array of sensors on the roof?
  • Reply 4 of 8
    alandailalandail Posts: 678member
    sog35 said:
    This won't end well.

    Self driving cars are the future of transportation.
    rayray14
  • Reply 5 of 8
    The Uber cars in the Phoenix area are Volvo's and say "Uber" on the side. See here: https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/21/14687346/uber-self-driving-car-arizona-pilot-ducey-california

    Here in Chandler, Waymo is getting ready to also start pickups. I can drive a mile or two without seeing at least one white Waymo car. I've never seen one without someone behind the wheel, so it's hard to tell when it's running in driverless mode.

    Having paced several of them, it's interesting to note that they seem to go 5 mph over the speed limit to keep up with the traffic flow.
    edited October 2017 patchythepiraterandominternetperson
  • Reply 6 of 8
    kbsbeme said:
    The Uber cars in the Phoenix area are Volvo's and say "Uber" on the side. See here: https://www.theverge.com/2017/2/21/14687346/uber-self-driving-car-arizona-pilot-ducey-california

    Here in Chandler, Waymo is getting ready to also start pickups. I can drive a mile or two without seeing at least one white Waymo car. I've never seen one without someone behind the wheel, so it's hard to tell when it's running in driverless mode.

    Having paced several of them, it's interesting to note that they seem to go 5 mph over the speed limit to keep up with the traffic flow.
    Have you tried cutting one off in traffic yet?  I really want to see how autonomous vehicles deal with merging into heavy traffic or letting other cars in (where, for example, two lanes are reduced to one and polite drivers shuffle together taking turns).
  • Reply 7 of 8
    alandail said:
    sog35 said:
    This won't end well.

    Self driving cars are the future of transportation.

    True. He should have said "This won't begin well". He'd be true then!
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