Uber Technologies Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo announced on Tuesday that they are teaming up to offer rides in self-driving cars, a significant step towards making autonomous driving more mainstream.
Starting later this year, Uber will launch a service in select parts of Arizona where passengers and deliveries will be transported using autonomous vehicles equipped with Waymo’s advanced self-driving technology. The initial rollout will be limited to a specific number of vehicles operating in a 180-square-mile area within the greater Phoenix region, where Waymo currently operates.
Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, “Fully autonomous driving is quickly becoming part of everyday life, and we’re excited to bring Waymo’s incredible technology to the Uber platform.”
Through the collaboration, customers will be able to request Waymo’s self-driving services directly from Uber’s ride-hailing and delivery apps, creating a seamless experience for users. Waymo’s co-CEO, Tekedra Mawakana, emphasized the opportunity this partnership presents for both companies, saying, “Uber has long been a leader in human-operated ridesharing, 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.”
This partnership marks a significant milestone in the relationship between the two companies, which were previously embroiled in a contentious legal battle over self-driving technology. Uber had previously pursued its own autonomous driving ambitions but abandoned those plans after Waymo accused the ride-hailing giant of stealing its technology and filed a lawsuit. In 2018, Uber agreed to pay Waymo $245 million in stock as part of a settlement, and the full litigation was resolved in February 2022. Since then, the companies have strengthened their ties, including announcing a partnership focused on autonomous trucking in June of the same year.
The collaboration between Uber and Waymo will expose a larger number of riders to Waymo’s cutting-edge technology as the company continues to expand its efforts to develop a commercially viable self-driving business. Apart from its operations in Phoenix, Waymo also offers rides in San Francisco and is conducting tests in Austin and Los Angeles.
With this strategic alliance, Uber and Waymo aim to accelerate the adoption of self-driving technology and pave the way for a future where autonomous vehicles are an integral part of everyday transportation.