Looks like Uber and Lyft will have a new competitor to consider in the near future, with Waymo set to launch its own ride-hailing service very soon.
The one primary difference between Waymo’s effort and the other major competitors is the fact that Waymo’s ride-hailing service will be driverless. According to a report on Tuesday from Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources familiar with Waymo’s plans, the company will be rolling out its driverless ride-hailing service in a small way at the beginning of December. According to those sources, Waymo will rebrand the driverless service, and it will go live in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area.
“Waymo, the secretive subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., is planning to launch the world’s first commercial driverless car service in early December, according to a person familiar with the plans. It will operate under a new brand and compete directly with Uber and Lyft.”
It will be available in 100 square miles, and it will be available for a couple of hundred riders right out of the gate. The chosen will be selected from Waymo’s Early Rider Program, which consists of up to 400 people –including families– that volunteered to try out the driverless vehicles. No word yet on how much the ride-hailing service will cost, but the report indicates it will be around the same price as Uber and Lyft.
While Waymo is consistent that the program will be driverless, it sounds like some vehicles in the initial test will have a driver on standby, who can take over driving responsibilities if needed. However, even with those individuals behind the wheel, the vehicles will still be automated 99.9 percent of the time.
No word on when Waymo is planning for this rebranded driverless ride-hailing service to make a wider rollout. Of course, Waymo’s rollout will take some time and it has a long road ahead of it, with plenty of hills. That includes longstanding competitors like Lyft, which recently introduced a new rewards program to offer a variety of perks to riders.