Waymo Confirms Driverless Rides

Steve Plumb

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo self-driving car unit has begun testing driverless rides as part of its robo-taxi pilot program in Chandler, Ariz.

The so-called “rider-only” service, details of which were leaked earlier this month, allows a few hundred participants in the company’s early rider program to reserve a driverless vehicle, Waymo chief John Krafcik tells reporters in Detroit. He says users are required to sign non-disclosure agreements.

Riders are notified in advance that the vehicle won’t have a trained safety driver on board. They also are sent a link to a “what-to-expect” informational website about the program, according to earlier reports.

Waymo began offering free rides to select customers in autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans (with backup drivers) in Phoenix in April 2017. A for-pay pilot program was launched there last December.

Krafcik says Waymo also is moving forward with its self-driving commercial truck program with tests of specially fitted Peterbilt big-rigs in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan. He’s optimistic about such applications but points out that regulations currently don’t allow for driverless trucks.