Instead of driving, those people simply “summon” a car from their smartphone, and it drives itself to their destination.
If you are somehow not impressed by a vehicle that can drive itself operating on public roads and taking rides, the service will be free for the first riders in this program, and that gratuity extends to their family members.
Waymo wants as many people as possible to use this service every day, so that its specialists will find out how it operates when regular users subject it to real-life needs.
Instead of offering a single free ride to anyone, or a few free rides to a broader audience, Waymo wants to see how it can work with the needs of people from specific areas and demographics. The service is only available in Phoenix, the city where the company already has a testing center for driverless car technology.
According to John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo, the surface around Phoenix is twice the size of San Francisco, which is why the service is tested there, and not in Silicon Valley.
The test also gives Waymo a chance to deal with people who are regular consumers, and get their feedback. The mentioned feedback is worth more than the gas used by the fleet of self-driving 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans, and could turn Google’s former self-driving arm into an Uber rival.
Krafcik’s post on Medium does not mention the presence of a human driver, so the newly-added 500 units of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid will be experienced without anyone behind the wheel. The total size of the Pacifica fleet from Waymo has reached 600, and it seems that this is just the start.