Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo said on Thursday it had partnered with Google’s Maps to let users book fully autonomous ride-hailing services through the app.
The service, called Waymo One, will be added in the “ride-sharing and transit” tabs of the Maps app, Waymo said. Waymo One currently offers fully autonomous rides in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, US.
Waymo, formed in 2009 as a project within Alphabet’s Google unit, is widely considered the leader in developing self-driving technology. But it is years away from building large-scale businesses, while rival Tesla has been selling its semi-automated driving system.
Back in February, Waymo said it would begin testing its driverless ride-hailing service on the streets of San Francisco.
The move expands the testing for the autonomous vehicles, that have been in use in the Phoenix, Arizona area since 2017.
The first tests will be with Waymo employees, to gain feedback before expanding to more riders.
Waymo has improved its technology, which will be used for “tackling the city’s iconic topographical variety – from rolling hills to sandy ocean highways, tiny side streets to huge freeways, bike lanes to tram tracks, and everything in between,” a company blog post said.
The company said it has improved its lidar vision system — that uses lasers to detect surroundings — as well.
“Our highly sensitive cameras can spot traffic lights changing at a long distance… And our cameras and lidar can instantly spot a jaywalker sprinting across our path and act appropriately,” the statement said.