The new partnership will start later this year and will give Uber app users the option to ride in a set number of Waymo cars. Autonomous Waymo vehicles will also be available for deliveries through Uber Eats. The announcement comes just weeks after Waymo announced it would double its robotaxi service area in Phoenix.
Anyone in Phoenix can already use the Waymo One app to travel around some 180 square miles of the city, making the “Valley of the Sun” the largest fully autonomous service area in the world, according to Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Riders will still be able to hail a Waymo cab directly through the Waymo app after the Uber partnership launches.
Waymo currently offers San Francisco riders the ability to join its waitlist and ride around the city.
“We’re excited to offer another way for people to experience the enjoyable and life-saving benefits of full autonomy,” said Tekedra Mawakana, co-CEO of Waymo.
“Fully autonomous driving is quickly becoming part of everyday life, and we're excited to bring Waymo's incredible technology to the Uber platform,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.
At present, General Motors-owned Cruise has the authority to offer fare-taking robotaxi services in limited areas of San Francisco from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. without a safety driver, along with fully autonomous, non-fared passenger service throughout San Francisco around the clock.
Cruise and Waymo are poised to get final approval to operate autonomous robotaxi services for fare-paying passengers across San Francisco 24 hours a day as early as June.
Two draft resolutions from the California Public Utilities Commission, a state agency that regulates fare-taking transportation systems like taxis, would give Cruise and Waymo the regulatory green light to “offer passenger service in its autonomous vehicles without a safety driver present throughout the city of San Francisco, at all hours of day or night.”
If approved, the robotaxi services would be permitted to expand their operations despite protests from local officials that doing so may cause safety issues.
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