Waymo close to debuting paid driverless car service in Phoenix area

Nov 14, 2018, 12:26 PM | Updated: 12:46 pm

(AP Photo)...

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Waymo’s paid driverless car service will likely make its debut in metro Phoenix within the next two months, a company official said.

If launched as expected, the service will be offered first to the Early Rider Program membership — 400 Valley families who signed up for the pilot program over a year ago — and will beat rideshare rivals Uber and Lyft to the self-driving taxi market.

“Over the course of the next couple of months we’re going to be opening it up to more folks,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik told the Wall Street Journal in a video.

“Step by step, little by little, it’s s very long journey.” he said.

Bloomberg News reported the service would have its own name, which hadn’t been announced as of Wednesday.

The Early Rider Program has been centered around the East Valley suburb of Chandler, the base of Waymo’s Phoenix-area operations.

There will be backup drivers in some of the Waymo vehicles, Bloomberg reported.

Street testing has progressed from a Waymo employee always being in the driver’s seat to only in the back seat.

“They’ve been wonderful,” Krafcik said of the Phoenix-area early riders.

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Waymo close to debuting paid driverless car service in Phoenix area