Waymo, the autonomous driving division of Google, has started its Trusted Tester program in San Francisco.
The program will invite the local population to get rides from Waymo to help better identify the issues involved with autonomous driving as well as discover what consumers want from self-driving ride-hailing services.
Waymo said it has accumulated more autonomous driving miles in California than anyone else in the automotive industry and began ramping up its testing by offering autonomous rides to its employees in San Francisco earlier this year.
In May, Waymo received permits to charge for rides using driverless vehicles in California with a safety driver in tow for added security. At the time, it was considered one of the largest projects to date for self-driving vehicles in urban environments.
The rides will use the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicle equipped with the fifth generation of Waymo Driver. This is the same car that Waymo has used over the past four years in Metro Phoenix with its Early Riders program where it worked its way by testing the program through paid autonomous ride hailing.
How it works
Under the Trusted Testers program, riders can hail self-driving cars to go wherever they want in the initial service area, which includes Sunset, Golden Gate Park and more.
Using the Waymo One app, riders can schedule a pick-up and drop-off and give the company feedback as to their preferences and concerns about the program. Initially, the program will begin with a select group and more riders will come in the following weeks.
Waymo said the ride-hailing service will be available to San Francisco residents with a variety of mobility options including access for people with disabilities and wheelchair access. Waymo said the overall goal is to complement the city’s existing public transportation infrastructure.