Waymo Set to Debut Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service to Select Arizona Users in December

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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.


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.

Article Link: Waymo Set to Debut Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service to Select Arizona Users in December
 

newyorksole

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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.
 
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tl01

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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!
 
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now i see it

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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.
 

thisisnotmyname

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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.
 

ArtOfWarfare

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Good lord, when will people stop talking about this team who couldn't bring a product to market to save their lives?

This project started in 2004 (or maybe earlier) at Stanford. It won a DARPA competition in 2005 and 2007. In 2009, Google acquired it. In December 2016, Google rebranded it as Waymo. Two years later, it still hasn't made any progress and Google sounds ready to rebrand it yet again.

It started only capable of driving under certain circumstances in a small patch of the Arizona desert, nearly 15 years ago. It's still only able to drive in a small, 10 mile by 10 mile patch of the Arizona desert.

It's baffling that people think this team is at the forefront of autonomous driving. They've never hit anything? Whoopty doo - my 2004 Buick never autonomously hit anything, either. It's not hard to collide with nothing when you never actually go anywhere and never travel at over 30 miles per hour (congratulations to Uber for making it look hard, though.)
 
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thisisnotmyname

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Good lord, when will people stop talking about this team who couldn't bring a product to market to save their lives?

This project started in 2004 (or maybe earlier) at Stanford. It won a DARPA competition in 2005 and 2007. In 2009, Google acquired it. In December 2016, Google rebranded it as Waymo. Two years later, it still hasn't made any progress and Google sounds ready to rebrand it yet again.

It started only capable of driving under certain circumstances in a small patch of the Arizona desert, nearly 15 years ago. It's still only able to drive in a small, 10 mile by 10 mile patch of the Arizona desert.

It's baffling that people think this team is at the forefront of autonomous driving. They've never hit anything? Whoopty doo - my 2004 Buick never autonomously hit anything, either. It's not hard to collide with nothing when you never actually go anywhere and never travel at over 30 miles per hour (congratulations to Uber for making it look hard, though.)
I can understand referring to metro-phoenix as a "patch of Arizona desert" but it's a fully formed city. I can relate to your sentiment too as I wanted a level 5 vehicle last year but they're bringing autonomous ride-sharing to a limited market right now, that's more than running cars around a sandy test track. I think they deserve some credit for that.
 
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omihek

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I just hope that when the world switches to autonomous driving they don't jack the regular driving cars prices way up to force everyone to just use a driving service. I love driving, and I don't like to imagine a world where I'll never be able to do that again.
 

kwikdeth

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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....
 

Sasparilla

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Google has been focusing their maps application on working for this future business of theirs.

Still hard to see this going mainstream for years at this point, but interesting to watch them move forward (nice and conservatively - as they should - thumbs up to their managers on that).
 

ArtOfWarfare

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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....
The bigger deal with that small patch of desert is the fact that the car will virtually never have to deal with snow, rain, or ice - AKA, what most of the world population has to deal with.
 

newyorksole

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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!
Yeah NYC is soooo chaotic. Maybe Long Island would work Lol.
 

rjohnstone

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The bigger deal with that small patch of desert is the fact that the car will virtually never have to deal with snow, rain, or ice - AKA, what most of the world population has to deal with.
No.. just the occasional blinding dust storm and monsoons that flood entire neighborhoods where streets can become rivers in a matter of minutes.
And we get regular rain as well... hard to believe it, but it does happen more than most people think.
And it's no small patch if desert. Just the city of Phoenix area covers more land (517 sq. miles) than Los Angeles (503 sq. miles). And much like LA, this doesn't include the surrounding cities.
Throw in all the surrounding cities in the greater Phoenix metro area and it covers over 9,000 sq. miles. Los Angeles Metro area is only 4,800 sq. miles.
It's only the 5th largest city in the U.S. (4.7 million people), so not exactly a small patch of desert.

As a side note, those Waymo cars and vans have been driving city streets here for several years now. Ugly beasts.
 

risn3rdday

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Apr 26, 2009
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I’ll never use this service. If you’re a union worker and use this service, you’d be a hypocrite. You’d be supporting a service intended on putting the rideshare driver out of work. People complain there are no jobs and here’s a company starting up to eliminate what would be its largest employee base.
 

kwikdeth

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I’ll never use this service. If you’re a union worker and use this service, you’d be a hypocrite. You’d be supporting a service intended on putting the rideshare driver out of work. People complain there are no jobs and here’s a company starting up to eliminate what would be its largest employee base.
you mean kind of like how rideshare drivers put cab drivers out of work?
 
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ArtOfWarfare

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And it's no small patch if desert. Just the city of Phoenix area covers more land (517 sq. miles) than Los Angeles (503 sq. miles). And much like LA, this doesn't include the surrounding cities.
Throw in all the surrounding cities in the greater Phoenix metro area and it covers over 9,000 sq. miles. Los Angeles Metro area is only 4,800 sq. miles.
It's only the 5th largest city in the U.S. (4.7 million people), so not exactly a small patch of desert.
The article specifically says they’re covering a 10 mile by 10 mile area. So obviously they’re not covering all of Phoenix.

But even if they were, that’s a crazy tiny area. Most of the time I use Lyft or Uber, I’m heading 20-30 miles, and either on the opposite side of the city or in a different one entirely. I thought I was normal in that regard (maybe I’m not) - seems like they need to cover a ~50 mile radius to actually feasibly compete with Uber/Lyft in an area.