Waymo to Begin Driverless Car Service as Early as December | Financial Buzz

Waymo to Begin Driverless Car Service as Early as December

Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) self driving division is reportedly taking steps to offer a driverless car service as early as December, according to Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources.
The sources say that Waymo’s service will operate under a new brand and compete against ride hailing service giants: Uber and Lyft. The sources did not leak the name of the new branded company as Waymo is trying to maintain its secret until the announcement.
Waymo declined to comment on the matter.
The autonomous service is expected to launch in Phoenix, Arizona where the company already operates a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The service will not launch on a large scale, but only cover upwards of 100 square miles in the Phoenix area.
The first wave of customers will likely draw from Waymo’s Early Rider Program, which was a test group of 400 volunteer families who have been riding with Waymo for over a year.
The volunteers were binded to a non-disclosure agreement which barred them from speaking about any of the Waymo activities. Afterwards, once the program is launched, the volunteers will be released from their NDAs.
Initially, Waymo intends to have backup drivers in the cars in case of a malfunction. Then afterwards, Waymo does not intend to have a backup driver, instead it will have a human at a remote operations center to control the vehicle if needed.
Uber also tested its autonomous driving services in Phoenix with a backup driver inside. The test program was halted momentarily after a woman was struck fatally. The issue raised concerns whether or not autonomous vehicles were ready to be publicly launched.
Despite the incident which happened earlier this year in March, Waymo is looking to establish itself within the self-driving service industry before its competitors like Uber and Lyft can launch one publicly for their riders.
The service will remain rather small at first, but later on, Waymo will most likely look to launch in populated urban regions across the country.