On Tuesday, Uber and Waymo announced a strategic agreement to provide autonomous car rides to Uber users. The service will begin later this year in Phoenix, Arizona. Waymo is a pioneer in autonomous driving technology. Uber, on the other hand, is one of the world’s largest ride-hailing companies. As a result of this collaboration, Uber will be able to benefit from Waymo’s expertise in driverless vehicles. And Waymo can benefit from Uber’s enormous network of riders.
Uber to offer driverless car rides in Phoenix
Interestingly, both Waymo and Uber were founded in 2009. However, the two companies have taken different routes to transform transportation. Waymo has focused on developing self-driving cars, while Uber has focused on ride-hailing and food delivery. However, they have now partnered to bring self-driving cars to the masses.
The partnership will initially launch in Phoenix, Arizona. Waymo also has the world’s largest completely autonomous service area, with 180 square miles in Phoenix. So it appears to be an ideal setting for bringing self-driving into the workplace.
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But as shared by Wyamo, the service will be launched with a set number of vehicles. And we do not know the exact numbers. But Waymo’s spokesperson Katherine Barna says that they would not be exclusive to Uber. Instead, Phoenix residents will also be able to book a Waymo ride through the company’s Waymo One app.
“Once a Foe, Now a Friend”
Uber and Waymo were once rivals, and are now partners in the self-driving car market. In 2017, Waymo’s parent company Alphabet sued Uber for stealing trade secrets. The lawsuit stemmed from Otto, a self-driving truck startup founded by former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski. In 2018, Uber settled with Alphabet four days before the case went to trial. Levandowski was later charged and convicted of stealing materials from his previous employer. Former President Donald Trump pardoned Levandowski on the last day of his administration.
Interestingly, Waymo isn’t the only Robotaxi company to appear in Uber’s app. Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, has its vehicles available to hail on Uber’s app in Las Vegas.