It appears that Google is moving into the ride-sharing market, according to The Wall Street Journal who cited a source familiar with the matter. The search giant back in May launched a pilot program near its California headquarters with the intention of helping thousands of workers at specific firms join carpools by using Waze.
Now, Google is expanding the pilot program to encompass all Waze users in San Francisco this fall.
Google’s plan with Waze is a bit different than Uber and Lyft’s on-demand taxi hailing style. The goal is to “connect riders with drivers heading in the same direction,” The Wall Street Journal says. In fact, Google plans to discourage drivers from operating as a taxi driver. The company will be doing this by offering extremely low fares. Right now, in Waze’s pilot program, riders are being charged, at most, a meager 54 cents per mile. That’s significantly less than Uber or Lyft fares, and could eventually hurt those two companies if Waze were to take off.
This program doesn’t seem to be profitable for Google right now, either. Currently, the search giant doesn’t take a fee out of drivers’ fares.
Google’s end-game isn’t to create a ride-sharing service that connects riders with drivers, though. This all seems to be tied to its self-driving car project and trying to make that profitable. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is looking at testing its driverless cars in a ride-sharing service, according to a source close to the publication.
Since Alphabet became Google’s parent company, there’s been more scrutiny in getting many of Google’s projects to become profitable. The self-driving car project isn’t an exception, and will obviously need to find a way to become profitable. The Wall Street Journal says that executives have already identified ride-sharing as a potential way for the self-driving car project to start bringing in income.
The first step is obviously to make this pilot program more accessible this fall by allowing any San Francisco Waze users to take advantage of it. If it takes off, it’s likely that Google will start expanding it even further. When Google will start testing self-driving cars in a commercial application like this, that’s a mystery. Maybe that will be sooner than later, as Uber says they’re testing robotic taxis in Pittburgh over the next few weeks, beating Google to publicly testing a commercial application like this.
source: The Wall Street Journal