Drivers Not Wanted. For a Transportation Network Service to operate, it needs cars. The benefit of Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand models is the driver brought their cars to the problem of moving people. They also shouldered the maintenance, customer interactions, and cleaning up after sloppy riders (many times I’ve seen the driver carrying barf bags for drunk passengers to minimize wiping up if they vomit). Waymo is going the other way, which requires a massive investment in autonomous automobiles.
Imagine Uber or Lyft today if they’d paid for all the cars on the road. Does not pencil out.
The autonomous car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. said on Tuesday it will soon start chauffeuring people in minivans without “safety drivers,” staffers that man the steering wheel. Waymo is doing so in a limited region of Phoenix, where it is running a pilot program with volunteer passengers. The move, a first for any company, is a major milestone for the internet giant’s bid to lead the crowded pack trying to commercialize driverless technology.