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Waymo Launching Ride-Hailing Service in 2018 That May Rival Uber

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【Summary】Just a week after Waymo and Uber settled their lawsuit over stolen IP related to autonomous driving, Waymo has announced its own ride-hailing service will launch later this year in Arizona. This commercial service might put Waymo in direct competition with rival Uber.

Original Eric Walz    Feb 16, 2018 5:14 PM PT
Waymo Launching Ride-Hailing Service in 2018 That May Rival Uber

Just a week after Waymo and Uber settled their lawsuit over stolen IP related to autonomous driving, Waymo has announced its own ride-hailing service will launch later this year in Arizona. This commercial service might put Waymo in direct competition with rival Uber.

Waymo applied for a permit to operate as a transportation network company in Arizona on Jan. 12, and the permit was approved on Jan. 24, as reported by Quartz.

Waymo has ordered thousands of Chrysler Pacifica minivans to use for its transportation service and has partnered with the car rental company Avis to maintain its autonomous fleet.

The vehicle's are Waymo's first  built on a mass-production platform with a fully-integrated hardware suite, designed by Waymo specifically for the purpose of autonomous driving. The Alphabet spinoff has been testing self-driving cars since 2009.

Last year, Waymo started its early rider program that was open to the public. People who signed up for the free pilot could summon a self-driving Pacifica minivan, which included a backup driver, whenever they need a ride to run errands, go shopping, or travel to select destinations within the Phoenix metropolitan area. Nearby towns included in the pilot are Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.

Arizona remains a popular testing location for self-driving cars, due to its favorable weather, wide, flat streets, and the full support of Arizona's governor, Doug Ducey.

Uber moved its operations to the Phoenix area in December of 2016 from San Francisco, where the company was testing self-driving pickups with a fleet of autonomous Volvo XC90 SUVs.

The move to Arizona was a result of California's DMV revoking Uber's vehicle registrations for not having the required autonomous vehicle testing permit after the one of its Volvo's was filmed running a red light in the city. However, the company was warmly welcomed in Arizona by Governor Ducey, where Uber continues to conduct its own ride-hailing tests with its self-driving Volvos.

Waymo has also been working alongside other companies testing self-driving technology. Uber's main rival Lyft, General Motors, as well as Intel have deployed hundreds of self-driving cars on the streets of the Phoenix metro area, a metropolis with a population of 1.4 million.

If Waymo's service is successful, it is likely to roll out to other cities including Atlanta, the city Waymo recently selected as the next location for its fleet of self-driving minivans.

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