May 30, 2023
Waymo has inked a multi-year strategic partnership with Uber that will see its self-driving taxis offered on the ride-hailing giant’s platforms.
The arrangement will get underway formally later this year in Phoenix, Arizona, when “a set number” of Waymo’s autonomous vehicles (AVs) are integrated into the Uber and Uber Eats apps for ride-hailing and food deliveries.
Waymo, owned by Google parent Alphabet, has recently expanded its operations in the city, and now offers coverage of more than 180 square miles there – claiming it is “currently the largest fully autonomous service area in the world.”
The partnership strengthens ties between the two companies following a previously acrimonious relationship. In 2017, Waymo sued Uber amid allegations of theft of trade secrets and patent infringement at a time when the latter was developing its own self-driving tech.
The case went to court before the pair ultimately agreed on a settlement. However, last year the companies signed a deal that saw autonomous trucks in Waymo Via’s test fleet join the Uber Freight logistics service, signifying they had moved on from the dispute.
The latest venture was hailed by both firms.
“Uber has long been a leader in human-operated ride sharing, and the pairing of our pioneering technology and all-electric fleet with their customer network provides Waymo with an opportunity to reach even more people,” said Tekedra Mawakana, co-CEO of Waymo.
And Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, added: “Uber provides access to a global and reliable marketplace across mobility, delivery, and freight. Fully autonomous driving is quickly becoming part of everyday life, and we're excited to bring Waymo’s incredible technology to the Uber platform.”
Neither company has confirmed the length of the deal nor the money involved, but it is understood it will extend to other cities in due course. Waymo also currently operates in San Francisco and is testing in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Customers will still be able to order a self-driving taxi via the Waymo One app, but by also making the AVs available through Uber, the company will take a significant step forward in fulfilling its recent promise to increase the number of driverless trips it provides tenfold from the current weekly rate of 10,000 by summer 2024.
In pairing with Uber, Waymo is following in the path of rival self-driving taxi company Motional, which signed a 10-year deal in October 2022 to offer rides in its self-driving IONIQ 5 taxis via the platform. The service is currently operational in Las Vegas, where Motional has also partnered with Lyft.
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