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Waymo launches its first commercial self-service service



The service will initially be limited to "early drivers" that were already part of Waymo's testing programs. This first wave will also find human drivers willing to take control in the event of a problem. These pre-launch passengers will not be able to handle experiments either. There will still be a program that can test changes before they come to Waymo One, such as completely driverless cars.

The appeal app will reflect Waymo's caution, with support playing a prominent role. Drivers have quick access to phone and chat support, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, such as whether they can change their destination while driving or not.

Waymo plans to introduce One gradually to the public and the driver. Free transport is more a question of "when" than "if". That being said, we would not expect that to happen in the near future. The brand, owned by Alphabet, has been operating an autonomous taxi service for more than a year. Incidents such as the October collision with a motorcycle could easily lead Waymo and its customers to failure, even though the crashes are due to human error. It probably wants to avoid a deadly crash like Uber at any cost.

What's next? Waymo can initially expand only slowly. It has permission to test completely driverless cars on Californian roads, but this does not guarantee that a paid service will be operational in that state in the near future. The company's long-term plans ultimately depend on legislation (such as the Senate's ongoing AV START law), as well as harsh weather and other technology refinements. However, Waymo One represents an important milestone on the road to autonomy entering the mainstream ̵

1; the days when a fixed-route shuttle needs to be taken may be numbered.


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