Waymo receives permission to launch ride-hailing service using its driverless vehicles
Waymo is preparing to launch a ride-hailing service that utilizes its driverless vehicles, after the company received a permit from the Arizona Department of Transportation to operate as a Transportation Network Company (TNC) in late January.
According to Bloomberg, the designation allows Waymo’s fleet of driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans to pick up and drop off paying riders in Arizona through a smartphone app or website.
Since April 2017, Waymo has been testing a self-driving car service in the Phoenix area that lets passengers hail cars through an app, similar to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.
These rides are currently free, but according to Quartz, TNC status would allow Waymo to charge for these rides, although it is unclear how much the company would charge for this service.
Now that it has achieved TNC status, Waymo plans to start the service in Phoenix this year, and the company is working diligently to make sure that the launch occurs without a hiccup.
“As we continue to test drive our fleet of vehicles in greater Phoenix, we’re taking all the steps necessary to launch our commercial service this year,” a Waymo spokesman said in an emailed statement, via Quartz.
The service in Phoenix will reportedly be limited by the number of vehicles that Waymo has at the moment, but that number could be in the thousands, as the company agreed in January to buy thousands of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). This acquisition comes after Waymo acquired several hundred of those same minivans in 2016 and 2017.