Designed by Waymo, the first U.S. commercial ride-hailing service without human drivers received approval in January.
In late January, Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Waymo received a permit from the Arizona Department of Transportation to operate as a transportation network company, as reported by Skift.com. Like Uber and Lyft, both good examples of transportation network companies in the state, Waymo and its fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans are now authorised to carry passengers, who pay for the service through a smartphone app or website.
Waymo, a pioneer in autonomous vehicles
Followed closely by Uber and General Motors, Waymo is a pioneer in autonomous vehicles, a new technology with the potential to radically transform the way people move around, especially in cities.
In 2017, the American company launched a free trial in Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, in which hundreds of people used a dedicated app to hail and use cars within a 150km² radius. Last November, Waymo began trialling driverless vehicles in parts of the city, a first for the industry.
Available in Phoenix this year
"As we continue to test-drive our fleet of vehicles in greater Phoenix, we’re taking all the steps necessary to launch our commercial service this year," said a Waymo spokesperson.
Waymo plans to start the service in Phoenix this year, though it will be limited by the number of vehicles Waymo has at the moment. The company has said this will be "thousands". They will, in any case, be able to reach more people than a similar number of personally-owned vehicles, which often sit idle for most of the day.
Waymo has yet to release its prices, though its driverless services are expected to compete with Uber and Lyft’s human-powered networks.
A fast-growing company
Earlier this year Waymo said it would be buying several thousand more self-driving Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to add to its current fleet of 600. Waymo also has a number of other projects in the pipeline, including personal-use vehicles and deliveries.
Alphabet Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat added that they are also considering working with cities to help them modernise their public transportation services.
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