John Krafcik, chief executive officer of Waymo Inc.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
“As a first step, we’ll deploy 10 Waymo vehicles on Lyft over the next few months,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote in a post on Medium. “Once Waymo vehicles are on the platform, Lyft users in the area will have the option to select a Waymo directly from the Lyft app for eligible rides.”
Waymo attained regulatory approval and began to operate its driverless cars in Phoenix last year with human supervisors on board in a program it called Waymo One.
Truly driverless vehicles do not yet exist. However, ride-sharing businesses are eager for the advent of Level 4 autonomous vehicles, which would be able to operate in typical driving conditions without human supervision. These “robotaxis” could help ride-sharing businesses like Lyft and Uber skirt costs and liabilities associated with the human drivers on their platforms.
The Waymo-Lyft announcement follows promises made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in recent weeks that his electric car company should have 1 million vehicles capable of functioning as robotaxis on the road next year, and that owners of the cars should be able to generate tens of thousands of dollars from them annually.
When Tesla began to discuss its ambitions in self-driving technology in 2016, Musk said they would conduct a hands-free trip across the US by late 2017. They have yet to complete that mission. And Tesla has not yet announced any regulatory approvals to operate a driverless transportation network.
Uber previously paused its self-driving vehicle programs in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Toronto after a woman was hit and killed by an Uber self-driving car while was walking across the street one night in Tempe, Arizona, outside of Phoenix.