Inside the Life of Waymo’s Driverless Test Family : SelfDrivingCars


The Jacksons, who Waymo made available for this story, have largely ditched their own cars and now use self-driving vehicles to go almost everywhere within the 100 square-mile operating area

A view of the app by Bloomberg News offers the first indication of Waymo’s early experiments with pricing. A ride to Kyla’s nearby school shows up as $5, for example, while a longer 11.3-mile trip lists a cost of $19.15. That’s similar to the cost of a ride from Uber Technologies Inc. or Lyft Inc., and cheaper than a local taxi. A Waymo spokesperson says the placeholder price is a way to solicit feedback from volunteers and “does not reflect the various pricing models under consideration.”

[Waymo] is now starting to  cars in Phoenix with no backup safety driver behind the wheel, something the Jacksons have experienced just once.

Waymo announced that it’s in talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to develop a self-driving personal car. Krafcik says Waymo is also in discussions with “more than 50 percent” of the global auto industry by volume, and the introduction of self-driving cars for personal use will trail its ride-hailing service by “a couple years.”

The partnership between Waymo and Phoenix’s mass-transit system will last up to two years. In the next three to six months, the program will expand to include pickups for people with disabilities. The city typically spends $25 to $50 to subsidize those rides, and working with Waymo could be a way to cut costs and expand service.

Waymo vans shuttle in and out of a nondescript depot in suburban Arizona, where a handful of dispatchers manage a fleet of more than a hundred vehicles. Waymo just doubled the size of its Chandler facility and will need to find more space soon. The new area of the warehouse is packed with some 50 minivans still being loaded with sensors, and one depot operator said that more vehicles arrive every week.

[Waymo] is poised to step first into a market that could top more than $1.5 trillion a year by 2030, according to UBS analyst Eric Sheridan. He estimates that Waymo software will drive some 60 percent of autonomous cars by then, bringing Alphabet some $114 billion in revenue, not including the trucking business.

Tasha Keeney, an analyst at ARK Invest, says that Waymo could choose to offer an autonomous ride-hailing service today at around 70 cents a mile—a quarter of the cost for Uber passengers in San Francisco. Over time, she says, robotaxis should get even cheaper—down to 35 cents a mile by 2020

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