SAN FRANCISCO, California: Waymo has begun offering rides in its all-electric self-driving Jaguar I-PACE sport utility vehicles to a pre-determined customers in San Francisco.
The SUVs will initially service the mainly residential western and southern areas of the city, including Richmond and Bernal Heights.
During the journey, a passenger must be sitting in the driver's seat to control the vehicle during an emergency.
During the testing period, Waymo is only allowing a pre-selected group of customers to order rides.
Self-driving vehicles are being deployed onto city streets at a slower rate than Waymo and its many competitors originally planned, said the company's senior product manager, Sam Kansara, who added, "A lot remains to be done. This is a step about starting to now get more information so we can inform our roadmap," as quoted by Reuters.
But experience gained from the use of the service gave Waymo the confidence to offer it to the public, Kansara stressed.
Waymo wants riders from various backgrounds and with different commuting requirements to provide feedback on the challenges they face getting in and out of vehicles, due to San Francisco's limited curb space and rampant double parking.
In October 2020, Waymo became the first company in the industry to allow residents of some Phoenix, Arizona suburbs to book rides on its completely driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans.
According to Kansara, the lessons learned from that experience will enable the company to progress more rapidly in San Francisco.