Why it matters: Self-driving car company and Alphabet subsidiary Waymo has been making steady strides with its driverless taxi service over the past couple of years. The taxi service, now known as “Waymo One,” began invite-only beta testing in Phoenix, Arizona exactly one year ago, but the userbase has been expanding in recent months.
After rolling its official ride-hailing app out to Android users earlier this year, Waymo has finally decided to bring it to iOS as well. This new push effectively grants any Phoenix Metro Area resident with a modern smartphone the opportunity to catch a ride in one of Google’s robo-taxis.
Naturally, there are a few catches to be aware of here. First, as we stated before, you’ll need to live in a very specific area before Waymo rides are even available to you, and second, the self-driving taxis are limited to East Valley transit. If you’re trying to get anywhere else, you’ll have to take a more traditional taxi or perhaps hail an Uber or Lyft.
Finally, Waymo One rides are no longer free, and we don’t know exactly how much they’ll cost. If we had to guess, we’d say it probably varies based on the time of day and your desired location. Longer rides during busier hours will likely cost more than the opposite.
If your specific location and transportation requirements do fit the necessary criteria, you can simply download the Waymo app for your device of choice and enter your desired destination. If any of the company’s autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans are available at the time of your request, they’ll “accept” and come to your location for pick-up. When the car arrives, just hop in one of the back seats and press the Start Ride button in the app.
Waymo promises a comfortable, efficient, and most importantly, safe riding experience for its users. Unlike a traditional ride-hailing service, Waymo One does not require you to tip or even talk to a human driver, nor can that driver be distracted by you or anyone else on the road. You can listen to music, chat with a friend, or just catch a few minutes of shut-eye during your trip with no adverse consequences.
Waymo hopes to expand its Waymo One taxi service to other parts of the US (and, presumably, the world) in the future, but for now, the company is taking things slow.