By Driverless.global Admin - 27 October 2018
Waymo recently announced that it has commenced the charging of passengers for using its Autonomous Ride service. Waymo is the first Driverless car technology provider to do this and Arizona is the first State to host this service.
Following an increase in participants to what they refer to as their “early rider” programme, they will now start to test pricing in the Phoenix suburbs, a state that has been involved in 7 million miles of real road driverless vehicle testing with Waymo since 2016.
Although very early days, with passengers now actually buying rides, this places Waymo ahead of Uber, Zoox and Cruise in the Autonomous Ride Hailing revenue race.
This announcement is quite out of the blue for many, but is the result of almost 10 years of self-driving car technology development.
Recent tragic incidents, including the death of a pedestrian being struck by an Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, have caused many key Autonomous technology players to have a rethink about the suitability of our "young" driverless technology and take a step back.
But throughout all this, Waymo have steadfastly continued to develop and invest huge sums in their Technology and testing. Since 2009 they have clocked up over 10 million road testing miles, but amazingly the last 5 Million have been in the last 9 months. They will continue to focus on a large area around Phoenix and also increase its testing activities in over 24 other cities across the USA.
Waymo already announced earlier this year that they have placed orders for over 60,000 Chrysler Pacifica mini vans and 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace vehicles, enabled to accept the Waymo Autonomous technology. Waymo will also continue to make other partnerships, including with key stores and brands such as Walmart and Avis to ensure the total journey experience for customers who visit such retailers and service providers.
Passengers will order and pay for the rides using a Robo taxi type ride hailing app with their smartphones. The cost of the journeys are still in the experimental phase, but early predictions are of around 35 cents / mile. Research group, ARK Invest, believes that two out of every 1,000 mile car journeys in the US could be in a Waymo autonomous car by 2020. Some Wall street analysts have predicted that Waymo could eventually be worth tens of Billions of USD over the coming years of Autonomous development.
Has it all really begun?