Google parent company Alphabet’s driverless ride-hailing service will launch in the US in the next few months

Waymo, Google parent company Alphabet’s autonomous car project, will launch a completely driverless rival to ride-hailing service Uber in the next few months, CEO John Krafcik has announced.

The scheme will launch in Phoenix, Arizona, US, a city known for its dry and predictable weather, reports Reuters, with members of the public requesting a ride through a smartphone app. Waymo engineers are still working on the system’s operation during heavy rain and snow. 

Waymo’s cars will be fully driverless Chrysler Pacifica MPVs, which the company has been testing since the project’s announcement last year.

No driver will sit in the front seat, although initially, a Waymo employee will be in the car in case of emergency. This is only temporary, however. Once members of the public begin riding solo, the cars will be equipped with a killswitch as a precaution. 

Arizona’s relaxed laws on driverless cars made the state a more suitable location for the scheme’s introduction, rather than Waymo's comparatively legislation-heavy home state of California. 

The service, which is free of charge for now, will be rolled out in more areas later, although a timeframe hasn't been specified. The widespread media coverage coupled with fees for use (to be introduced later) will help to offset some of the development costs.

Read more:

Google's Waymo to develop self-driving cars with established car makers

Uber London to lose operating licence due to TfL concerns

Google Waymo self-driving car company announced

Honda partners with Waymo to explore self-driving car tech

Honda developing autonomous tech to let you sleep while your car drive

Our Verdict

Ford Focus

Britain's biggest-selling family hatchback gets a mid-life refresh, but can the Ford Focus hold off the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and the Seat Leon?

Join the debate


8 November 2017

"No driver will sit in the front seat, although initially, a Waymo employee will be in the car in case of emergency" so there will be a driver.

And love the kill switch name tag, good luck on the Elephant and Castle commute

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

8 November 2017

Why are you very sceptical about driverless? I think they will change our world - probably more than any other advance in our lifetime? 

8 November 2017

XXXX - just cos someones sat in the front seat doesnt make them a driver - they didnt specify what seat, so using your logic front seat passengers must also be drivers. Its clear to people with at least a modicum of inteligence that the guy sat in the front seat will not be driver, but there to monitor the driverless vehicle - the article says so and frankly its the logical thing to do. I m not even a particular fan of driverless vehicles, but really, what a stupid post XXXX, nothing to do today ??

XXXX just went POP.

8 November 2017

There's lots of reasons least not financial. But if you think it'll change our world more than any other advancement in the next 30 years fine.  

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo front
    The new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo
    First Drive
    16 February 2018
    The top-of-the-line 6 Series Gran Turismo has arrived in the UK, but does a more potent engine increase its unusual appeal?
  • Audi TT RS Coupé
    First Drive
    16 February 2018
    The Audi TT RS has the looks, a vociferous engine and the supercar-baiting performance, but is it too uncompromising to use as a daily driver?
  • Range Rover Velar front quarter
    The new Range Rover Velar P300 features a four-cylinder petrol engine
    First Drive
    16 February 2018
    JLR’s most powerful four-pot isn’t the engine the Velar truly wants but perhaps the one that makes most sense
  • Mitsubishi Outlander diesel
    The Mitsubishi Outlander diesel is available with five or seven seats
    First Drive
    15 February 2018
    The Outlander isn't just available as a PHEV: how does the diesel version compare to seven-seat rivals such as the Nissan X-Trail and Skoda Kodiaq?
  • Ferrari Portofino
    The Portofino's engine revs to a tremulous 7500rpm; it has a huge swell of mid-range torque; and it responds crisply at all times and feels unusually progressive in its power delivery for a highly stressed turbo
    First Drive
    13 February 2018
    Faster, more agile and perhaps more authentically ‘Ferrari’, but the Portofino lacks the dynamic sophistication of a great GT car, just like its predecessor