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Waymo One – Google’s driverless taxi service – was officially launched on 5 December. Vehicles from the company’s fleet will first take to the streets of Arizona, where they will transport people who took part in the test phase. After that, the service is then set to be made available in other areas and by other users.

 

Waymo, the Google subsidiary specialising in autonomous vehicles, announced on 5 December that it was launching the Waymo One driverless taxi service. The US giant’s press release, reported by Numerama, said that the service would only be available in Arizona at the outset, with initial users being the few hundred people who took part in a test programme that began in April 2017.

 

More cars, more clients, more regions covered

 

This, however, is just the beginning for Waymo One, with CEO John Krafcik promising that the brand’s autonomous taxis will multiply and soon be transporting new clients in new geographical areas. Conditions will apply however, as Krafcik points out in the press release. "For many people, driverless vehicle technology is something new. We are therefore progressing with precaution and not losing sight of the importance of comfort and suitability for passengers."

Those in charge of the programme are aware of the apprehension that certain users may have in being driven around in a car where there is not a human being in control, and as such have opted for a reassuring solution. To begin with, the fleet’s vehicles will have a driver on board that has been trained by Waymo and who will supervise all journeys.

 

Constant striving for improvements

 

At the same time, the test phase will continue but in a different format. As was the case before, the initial passengers will provide their impressions about the service and any feedback they have after their journeys, with the aim for Waymo being to develop new functionalities which will then be integrated into the service. As Krafcik points out, "you never stop learning".

In concrete terms, the service will enable clients to connect to an application and state where they want to be picked up and dropped off. The price is then calculated based on the time and the length of the journey and has to be validated by the user. The cars are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can transport up to three adults and one child. Once on board, passengers have access to an interface putting them in touch with customer service and enabling them to leave comments.

 

Importance of safety on the roads

 

Waymo was founded "almost ten years ago" to provide an answer to the question: "What is the best way of using autonomous vehicle technology to make our roads safer?", the CEO states, adding that since the outset, the company has focused on the development of "the most highly-tested driving systems in the world".

 

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