Waymo – formerly the Google Self Driving Car Project – began inviting folks in Phoenix to ride its autonomous cars in April 2017, a few months after the new Alphabet company was formed to commercialize the technology. Now Waymo One has officially launched, a commercial endeavor aimed at getting more of the public on board.
Initially, Waymo's One vehicles will have a trained human driver behind the wheel, ready to take over if issues arise and look after the needs of passengers, and will only be open to those who have been using the pilot scheme introduced last year. Members of the early rider program will continue to give feedback to Waymo and test early features and capabilities ahead of more widespread public availability.
Waymo's eventual aim will be to ditch the drivers and offer a completely autonomous taxi service in Phoenix, though the company hasn't offered a project timeline.
But the Waymo team has given a glimpse of how One will work. Customers will be given access to a mobile companion app, which can be used to book a vehicle 24/7. Rides are being offered across a number of cities in the Metro Phoenix area – including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert – and pricing estimates based on such things as time and distance will be displayed before the rider hits the Request Ride icon.
If riders have queries during a trip, there's an in-car console that's designed to tell them what they need to know at the touch of a button. The companion app can also be used for this purpose.
Up to three adults and one child can ride along in the One self-driving vehicle at any one time, with journey feedback encouraged to help shape the future of the service. The introductory video below has more.
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