We always expected Google to turn its self-driving car technology developed under Waymo into a self-driving taxi service of sorts, and Google finally delivered the service we’ve been waiting for. However, Waymo launched Waymo One without making a big deal over the event. Furthermore, the driverless taxi service is very limited, servicing interested users in just four Phoenix suburbs: Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert.
That’s a service area of roughly 100 miles, Reuters explains. The cars may be able to drive themselves, but they’re not exactly driverless, because a person will always be sitting behind the wheel, ready to take over if something goes wrong. To use Waymo One, you’ll need to register via an app, just like you do with Uber and Lyft.
Per Reuters, the Waymo One taxi service is apparently “slow and jerky” at times:
The drive took place on city streets with moderate traffic on wide, well-paved roads on a relatively clear day. But even in these favorable conditions, Waymo’s technology performed much like a student driver: slow and timid.
The car was able to perform other maneuvers without problems, “including one of the trickiest: crossing three lanes of oncoming traffic to execute a left turn into a parking lot.”
Pricing is in line with what competitors offer. A 15-minute ride of about 3 miles cost Reuters $7.59 last week, just above the $7.22 quote that Lyft gave. The around-the-clock service will be available initially to “hundreds” of people, but Waymo plans to extend it to more people in the coming months and years.
“Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public as we add vehicles and drive in more places,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote in a blog post. “Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully with the comfort and convenience of our riders in mind. At first, Waymo-trained drivers will supervise our Waymo One vehicles.”
A promo video shows the new Waymo One cars in action: