Waymo Launches First Commercial Driverless-car Service
Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOG,GOOGL), said Wednesday that it has officially launched its first driverless-car service, Waymo One, in Arizona.
The company added that as self-driving technology is new to many people, it will proceed "carefully with the comfort and convenience of riders in mind." Initially, Waymo-trained drivers will supervise the Waymo One vehicles.
In a blog post, Waymo Chief Executive John Krafick said that the company will initially offer Waymo One to hundreds of early riders from its research program, who have already been using its technology.
Over time, the company hopes to make Waymo One available to more members of the public as it adds vehicles and drive in more places.
Waymo first invited members of the public in April 2017 to ride in its cars through its early-rider program. The company noted that some of its early riders have already been offered fully driverless rides.
Waymo will start by giving riders access to its smartphone app. The riders can use the app to call the self-driving vehicles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can ride across several cities in the Metro Phoenix area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert.
Riders will be able to see price estimates, based on factors like the time and distance to their destination, before they accept the trip.
Further, Waymo said that as people taking a self-driving ride for the first time may have questions, riders can connect instantly to a rider support agent with the tap of a button on the in-car console and screens. They can ask questions like, "What if I want to change my destination during the trip?"
Up to three adults and a child can ride together, the company noted.
"Feedback from riders will continue to be vital every step of the way. We hope all Waymo One riders will leave us comments in the app. They can help shape a future where life on the road is less stressful and safer for everyone," Waymo said.
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