Waymo, Google and parent company Alphabet's self-driving car subsidiary, plans to launch its first self-driving taxi service in the next two months.
The company's chief executive officer, John Krafcik, told an audience at the Wall Street Journal's D.Live conference on Tuesday that the service will first launch in Phoenix, according to a report from the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Krafcik said the service will house two separate revenue streams: one where riders hail a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan for a ride, and another from businesses that will carry customers to and from there stores.
The businesses Waymo will initially work with were revealed as Avis car rental agencies, AutoNation car dealerships, and Walmart. The latter recently signed on for a new partnership with Ford for a self-driving delivery service.
Waymo has long been considered the leader in the self-driving car segment and has booked more real-world miles than any rival. Competition includes General Motors and its Cruise Automation subsidiary and Uber. German automaker Daimler and supplier Bosch also announced they would roll out a self-driving service of sorts sometime next year. GM plans for its own service in 2019 as well. Uber, meanwhile, has continued to recover from its major setback after one of its self-driving prototype cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, this past March.
Google's Waymo has been on the ground in Phoenix for years now. It started an Early Rider program last April to shuttle 400 families to their desired destination. In the process, Waymo gained valuable insight into what riders need to feel comfortable during their rides.
Should everything go according to plan, Waymo will be the first company to roll out a self-driving service of any kind for the public.