Waymo Tests Price Points for Driverless Rides

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【Summary】Examples of rates include $5 for a trip from a participant’s house to a nearby school and $19.15 for an 11.3-mile ride.

Michael Cheng    Aug 10, 2018 9:03 AM PT
Waymo Tests Price Points for Driverless Rides

Most public trials involving autonomous vehicles and ride-hailing services are free. However, in the future, when the technology is more refined and ready for full-scale deployment, businesses will likely start introducing fees and rates for the service.

Waymo is one of the first companies to start experimenting with pricing for autonomous rides. The company reportedly began displaying hypothetical price points to participants of the Early Rider trial in Arizona, which at this time is still free.

Costing for Autonomous Rides

Individuals who were able to view the experimental pricing standards mentioned they were reasonable. According to a report by Bloomberg, the average rate per ride is $1.70 per mile. This is considerably lower, compared to local taxi rides (in Arizona – where trials are ongoing), which go for roughly $2.50 per mile.

Examples of rates include $5 for a trip from a participant's house to a nearby school and $19.15 for an 11.3-mile ride.

The potential price points were offered for driverless rides in a Chrysler Pacifica van. At the moment, it is unclear how Waymo will structure pricing for different autonomous vehicles and if discounts are offered for group bookings or individuals with disabilities. A spokesperson for the business advised that the experimental rates do not reflect pricing models under discussion.

"Car companies make cars, and that's what they should do," said John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo. "Self-driving companies should make drivers."

"Personal auto mobility has changed the world in some fairly negative ways. We can get the world back to a better place."

The hypothetical pricing standards for the driverless rides were derived from a Waymo trial in Phoenix. The program services 400 individuals within a 100 square-mile area. By the end of the year, the autonomous ride-hailing service will roll out to selected locations. When it officially launches, the finalizes rates will be implemented.

Feedback from Passengers

So far, the ongoing trial has received positive feedback from the local community. To date, Waymo's fleet of self-driving vehicles has logged a whopping 8 million miles on roads. The company has started testing rides without human safety drivers in the Phoenix area. When comes to safety, the company has one of the cleanest human-disengagement records in the industry.

In order to extend the service, Waymo is making big moves in the sectors of public transportation and commercial trucking. Recently, the business unveiled a partnership with the Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority, a membership organization that unifies regional transit systems in Arizona.

For Valley Metro, Waymo will launch a driverless shuttle service along busy routes. The primary objective of the program is to boost accessibility to public transportation, including railway systems and buses. Initially, the Valley Metro trial will service individuals with disabilities.

"It will absolutely happen," explained Scott Smith, CEO of Valley Metro.

"But I'm not scared, I'm excited. There will be a reduction in bus use, in subway use in some areas, but expanded use in others. This is real. We've got to be a part of it."

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