Author: Zhou Shaohong
Waymo, Alphabet's autonomous driving company, will soon launch a truly autonomous taxi service.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik said Tuesday that they plan to launch their first commercial driverless car service in the next two months and that big businesses will be their key customers.
Bloomberg quoted people familiar with the matter, the specific launch date is December. The new service will have a brand new name to compete directly with Uber and Lyft. But don't expect it to be widely promoted. Waymo will not hold any publishing activities, and its initial service scope is very limited.
Early Waymo covered only 100 square miles around Phoenix (about 259 square kilometers, about half the size of Chaoyang District in Beijing), according to people familiar with the matter. The service will not be open to everyone. Early Bird users are audited by Waymo, who all came from 400 volunteers recruited by Waymo before.
Official launch means that these users end the confidentiality agreement restrictions, when they are free to take photos and send them online, inviting friends to ride together. Not all of the 400 volunteers will be transferred to commercial services, but some will continue to help Waymo test service functions and provide feedback.
According to the plan, there will be no human drivers on the train. But in the early stages of service launch, Waymo will prepare a group of "back-up drivers" to sit on the car and help users take over vehicles when necessary. Waymo's goal is to be completely unmanned. According to the data they submitted to California regulators, the modified Chrysler minivan drives automatically for more than 99.9% of the test time.
The initial pricing model will be similar to Uber and Lyft, but with the cancellation of human backup drivers, Waymo's pricing method may change.
Bloomberg joined Waymo's Auto Driving Project in July this year. Like Uber, Waymo also has a separate taxi service application that provides call and navigation functions.
If launched smoothly, it will become the first unmanned driving project in the world to formally put into use and charge ordinary passengers.
Google set up a driverless car project in 2009 and was split into an independent company Waymo in 2016. In 9, Waymo tested more than 8 million miles (about 12 million 870 thousand kilometers) on open road.
This year Waymo accelerated commercialization. In March this year, Waymo announced that it would cooperate with Jaguar Land Rover to purchase 20,000 Jaguar I-paces to build a fleet of unmanned vehicles by 2020. In June, it ordered 62,000 Pacifica from Fiat Chrysler to integrate the technology and customization services of Waymo directly into the new car.
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