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Waymo To Start First Driverless Car Service Next Month

Alphabet’s self-driving car company Waymo is planning to launch the world’s first commercial driverless car service in early December. According to Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the plans, the service “will operate under a new brand and compete directly with Uber and Lyft.” From the report: Waymo is keeping the new name a closely guarded secret until the formal announcement. It’s a big milestone for self-driving cars, but it won’t exactly be a “flip-the-switch” moment. Waymo isn’t planning a splashy media event, and the service won’t be appearing in an app store anytime soon. Instead, things will start small — perhaps dozens or hundreds of authorized riders in the suburbs around Phoenix, covering about 100 square miles.

The first wave of customers will likely draw from Waymo’s Early Rider Program — a test group of 400 volunteer families who have been riding Waymos for more than a year. The customers who move to the new service will be released from their non-disclosure agreements, which means they’ll be free to talk about it, snap selfies, and take friends or even members of the media along for rides. New customers in the Phoenix area will be gradually phased in as Waymo adds more vehicles to its fleet to ensure a balance of supply and demand. The report notes that some backup drivers will be placed in the cars when the service launches, and the cars themselves will be heavily modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans.


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