SAN FRANCISCO — Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving unit, launched on Wednesday the first commercial automated ride-hailing service of its size among the main U.S. companies vying to dominate the still nascent market.
Big technology companies like Uber and Lyft, global automakers like General Motors and Ford, and scores of start-ups are vying to roll out robotaxi services for paying customers — the business model the industry believes could defray the cost of developing the autonomous technology.
Here’s where Waymo stands in relation to some of its U.S. competitors:
Waymo launched on Dec. 5, 2018
GM’s Cruise is targeting 2019.
Ford is targeting 2021.
Uber said it has no timeline to share.
Waymo is testing mainly in Chandler, Arizona and three other Phoenix suburbs, but also 21 other cities including San Francisco and Silicon Valley suburbs, Detroit, Atlanta, Austin and Kirkland, Washington.
GM’s Cruise is testing in San Francisco, Scottsdale, Arizona and Warren, Michigan.
Ford is testing in Miami, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Washington D.C.
Uber stopped its testing in Tempe, Arizona, and Pittsburgh in the wake of a fatal accident in Arizona in March. Last month, it applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for permission to resume testing.
Waymo has 600 vehicles, mostly in Arizona. “Hundreds” of vehicles will be used in the Waymo One commercial service in the Phoenix area, Waymo says. And it has announced a partnership with Jaguar involving 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace EVs over the next two years and 62,000 more self-driving Chrysler Pacificas.
GM’s Cruise has 180 vehicles registered in California.
Ford says it will have over 100 vehicles by the end of 2018.
Uber has around 200 vehicles.
Some of the other companies testing in geofenced areas
Las Vegas — Aptiv (formerly Delphi) operating 30 vehicles offering paid rides through Lyft between casinos and other venues.
Arlington & Frisco, Texas — Drive.ai operating three vehicles in Arlington, four in Frisco. The service in Arlington is paid for by the city.
Union Point, near Boston — Optimus Ride operating five vehicles in this new community, paid for by the developer.
Detroit and Columbus, Ohio — May Mobility operating three vehicles in Detroit paid by a property management company and on Dec. 10 begins operating up to three vehicles in Columbus paid for by a public private partnership.
San Jose, California and The Villages, Florida — Voyage operates eight vehicles in closed residential communities in San Jose and at The Villages, near Orlando. Service is paid for by riders.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage