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Bloomberg: Waymo driverless cars to open up Phoenix program in December

Posted at 9:16 AM, Nov 13, 2018

It could be just a matter of weeks before the first commercial driverless ride service in the Valley hits the road, according to a Bloomberg report.

ABC15’s Megan Thompson was the only reporter to ride inside one ofWaymo'sdriverless vehicles in Chandler in November. It was an inside look at Waymo’s Early Rider Program, testing the autonomous vehicles with a group of people who wanted to try it first. 

According to Bloomberg, those Early Rider Program members are expected to be among the first to use the paid ride-share service —and it could happen in the Valley as early as next month. 

The Bloomberg report states that Waymo is planning to launch their “commercial driverless car service in early December,” according to a source. The commercial service, which is currently not publicly named, will be the world’s first of its driverless kind and compete with other services like Uber and Lyft. 

Their source also says the launch is expected to be small and take authorized users around the Phoenix area. Some vehicles will have a backup driver, according to the source.

Bloomberg reports that some Early Rider Program volunteers will continue to provide feedback instead of switching over to the commercial service. 

Waymo has their Safety Report online and in it, they break down their core reasons for pushing this technology. They say it's all about safety. 

Learn more about the Early Rider Program here and more about the Valley's commercial plans on Bloomberg's site. 

ABC15 reached out to Waymo for comment on the Bloomberg report and they issued the following statement: 

"Waymo has been working on self-driving technology for nearly a decade, with safety at the core of everything we do.

We've been laying the groundwork for our service, beginning with the launch of our early rider program and we’ll continue to commercialize our technology and expand our capabilities over time."

Still, with self-driving technology on the horizon, Waymo's CEO said Tuesday it will still be decades before it's widespread, according to CNET. 

The CEO reportedly said he expects driverless cars to always operate under constraints, and may not be able to drive in all conditions.