Google's Waymo takes cabbie out of its self-driving taxis

November 9, 2017

Google-owned Waymo is taking the driver out of self-driving cars with a new ride-hailing service that just launched in suburban Phoenix.

About 100 Chrysler Pacificas equipped with Waymo's self-driving technology are now being tested in Chandler, Arizona, company CEO John Krafcik said Tuesday. Unlike previous tests, there's no driver behind the wheel of these vans—and the test is open to members of the public.

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The first participants are from Waymo's early ride program launched in April. Users can request a self-driving car via Waymo's smartphone app, the vehicle will arrive, and whisk them off to their destination. Initially, a Waymo employee will ride in the back seat, but eventually the human will be removed from the equation. Perhaps not the best job security.

The program launches in suburban Phoenix for a variety of reasons, including the dry and predictable weather. For now, it's mostly a novelty since the vehicles are restricted to a small geo-fenced portion of Chandler. Krafcik said that the program will expand to the rest of the Phoenix area soon, but he hasn't provided a timeline.

Waymo has made multiple moves to bolster its self-driving car business recently. Notably, it partnered with AutoNation to service its fleet of driverless cars.

The new ride-hailing service milestone came quickly after Waymo said first announced plans to let the public ride in its vehicles without a driver.

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