Attentive readers knew it already for two months, and now it’s official. Waymo, the Google-sister that is working on self-driving car technology, has officially launched the world’s first commercial robotaxi-service.
Starting today hundreds of Fiat-Chrysler Pacifica minivans, equipped with Waymo-technology, have started to take on passengers for a fee under the brand Waymo One. For the time being, the Waymo-app is restricted to a few hundred residents, and the service is available only in a small portion of the 100 square miles of Phoenix in Arizona. Even though Waymo is said to have created high-definition maps of all of Phoenix for the Waymo One-service.
Successively more and more cars are being added to the fleet and opened for more passengers. First reports of additional car deliveries have been discussed here. In total Waymo wants to add up to 82,000 cars to the fleet in the next few years.
With the official launch of the commercial operation, the non-disclosure agreements that the test passengers had to sign, become obsolete. We expect to see more videos and reports about the experiences in Waymo One-vehicles the next days and weeks. Initially, the Waymo cars will still have safety drivers to interfere in case of emergencies, but sooner or later the company wants to get rid of them. In California, Waymo has just recently received the license to operate autonomous vehicles without a safety driver.
In the first half of 2019 San Francisco and Mountain View in California are scheduled to be opened to the robotaxi-service. We expect that more and more urban areas in the US will be added as operation areas for Waymo One.
Even though Waymo has so far not mentioned anything about when its service will come to Europe, we expect that within the next three to five years we will see the first Waymo-One-fleet operating in a European city.
The Waymo-website has more details of how the Waymo-app works and looks like, as well as some information about Waymo’s history and some additional videos explaining the service.
This article was also published in German.