Waymo starts giving public rides in self-driving vans

Fatality puts brakes on self-driving cars
Waymo via CNN
The CEO of Waymo, the driverless car division of Google parent company Alphabet, said this week that his company's driverless cars are safe. Waymo is still testing cars in Arizona and elsewhere.

Waymo is starting to let the public take rides in its self-driving vans. This is the first commercial self-driving ride service to launch publicly, according to Waymo.

For now, Waymo’s definition of “the public” is a couple hundred pre-selected individuals in the Phoenix area. But Waymo is calling this is a small but important first step to launching an actual driverless ride sharing service.

These initial users were all part of Waymo’s “Early Rider” test program, so they’ve ridden in these vans before. The big difference is now they’ll be allowed to invite others to ride with them — as many as four people can fit in the van — and they’ll be able to speak publicly about the experience, including posting about it on social media.

These customers will not be stepping into vans with empty driver’s seats, though. While Waymo has given totally driverless rides to people as part of the private “Early Rider” program, for these more public rides, a Waymo employee will be in the driver’s seat ready to take over if needed.

Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet (