Waymo is preparing to launch a ride-hailing service similar to Uber’s, but with driverless cars.
The self-driving carmaker spun out of Google was approved on Jan. 24 to operate as a transportation network company (TNC) in Arizona. Waymo applied for the permit on Jan. 12. Its application contained images of the autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans the company is testing in five U.S. states.
Waymo has been testing a self-driving car service in the Phoenix area since last April that lets passengers hail cars through an app, similar to Uber. TNC status would allow it to charge for these rides, which are currently free. The permit moves it a step closer to the commercial, on-demand ride service it plans to launch in Phoenix this year. Waymo has yet to announce rates for those rides. The company plans to operate commercially in other cities in the future.
Waymo’s vehicles in the Phoenix area have driven more than 4 million miles on public roads. In November, the company said a portion of its cars in the Phoenix area were operating in fully autonomous mode, or what is known as level four autonomy. Waymo said in coming months it would invite members of the public to ride in the fully autonomous vehicles, beginning with those already in the early rider program.