As Waymo, Google's autonomous driving subsidiary, is preparing to start up their platform in Phoenix, Arizona and has recently launched their ride-hailing mobile app onto the Google Play Store.
This follows Waymo's launch of their self-driving taxi platform, called Waymo One, in Phoenix at the end of last year. Their platform and mobile app were originally only used by consumers who were reviewed beforehand before they could ride in Waymo's autonomous vans.
So while Waymo has already had their app available on the Google Play Store and Apple store, consumers would only gain access to the platform after applying. If someone was then approved for the service they would be sent a link allowing them to download and access the app.
This early rider test program started back in early 2017 and Waymo stated it had around 400 users. However Waymo has been more secretive about how many users are enjoying their public platform and only comment that "hundreds of riders" are participating.
However, now that Waymo has their app fully launched in the Google Play store more users can join in, but there will still be limits.
Consumers can download the app, but they won't be able to jump right in and use the service. Users will be placed onto a wait list and once they are added and accepted they can begin hailing rides.
In addition, new consumers will have to be invited into the Waymo early rider system and then placed into the open public platform. The reason for the long path to public use is because early rider users cannot invite others into the program and are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement as well. New users will eventually be moved over, but Waymo didn't say exactly when or how long it'll take. However once in the public version of the program users can invite others, take video or pictures, and discuss the platform with anyone.
“These two offerings are deeply connected, as learnings from our early rider program help shape the experience we ultimately provide to our public riders,” Waymo said in a blog post recently.
Waymo first started their efforts for a self-driving taxi platform back in 2016 when they started testing autonomous vans. A year afterwards they started their early rider program and began self-driving tests on public roads.
In May of 2018, the company started allowing users to use the service in vans without any human drivers and now Waymo has also started a public transit system in Phoenix that will bring consumers to train and bus stations.