Waymo minivan

  • Waymo, the self-driving-car company spun out of Google, is allowing residents in Arizona to hail its driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
  • The cars will operate entirely on their own; there won’t be a driver sitting behind the wheel.
  • Uber has similar pilots in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona, but keeps a safety driver up front.

Waymo, the self-driving-car company spun out of Google, just made a huge move to rival Uber in the driverless-car arms race.

Waymo said Tuesday that select people in Arizona can now hitch a ride in one of the company’s autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The effort mimics the ones launched by Uber in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona, but Waymo will differentiate itself by not having a human driver sit behind the wheel.

That’s right: people will be able to ride in a completely driverless car for the first time.

“Now, in an area of the Phoenix metro region, a subset of our fleet will operate in fully autonomous mode, with Waymo as the sole driver,” Waymo said in the Medium post. “Over time, we’ll cover a region that’s larger than the size of Greater London, and we’ll add more vehicles as we grow.”

Waymo said its driverless cars will be available to transport passengers to work, to an evening out on the town or to take kids to school, among other uses. The company did not provide specifics about how many cars will initially be part of the ride-hailing fleet, or passengers will have to pay for the service.

The driverless minivans are equipped with screens in the back seat that provide passengers with information such as the speed limit in the area, or a quick message to explain that the car is “yielding to pedestrians.” When the car arrives at its destination, the screen reads “We’re here,” according to Business Read More Here