Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that the company is going to launch its first commercial self-driving car service in the next two months. And businesses are expected to be Waymo’s biggest customers. Krafcik made this announcement at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech D.Live conference on Tuesday.
Krafcik added that the new service is going to charge individual passengers for rides along with businesses like Walmart, Avis, and AutoNation. The businesses will pay to shuttle customers to stores. “This is a whole other channel of demand we really hadn’t thought deeply about that could end up being a really significant driver of business,” said Krafcik via MarketWatch.
Initially, this service will be available for a small test group in a 100-mile area around Phoenix. And then the company will expand to more cities in the coming months. Waymo had actually started testing out self-driving vans with nonemployees in Chandler, Arizona last year. This program — which was known as Early Rider — provided Waymo with a way to learn about how potential customers would interact with the service.
Plus Waymo said it is going to launch a self-driving ride service in 2018. To power the service, Waymo is going to buy thousands of vehicles in the coming years from Fiat Chrysler and Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover. And it is believed that there will be human drivers as a backup at launch.
Waymo started out as a self-driving unit under Google and the company has been developing its technology for several years. And the self-driving technology has been tested across millions of miles.