People in select areas might be able hail Waymo’s self-driving cars (with no human drivers!) as soon as this fall, according to The Information. In a piece talking about the Google spinoff’s internal issues, the publication has revealed that it’s gearing up to launch an autonomous ride-hailing fleet. The first self-driving vehicles in the service are even expected to start picking up passengers in Phoenix, Arizona, where Waymo has been testingits technologies, sometime this month.
Waymo is apparently pushing through with those plans despite internal conflict between John Krafcik, the industry veteran Google hired in 2015 to lead its autonomous vehicle division, and its engineers. The company’s tech personnel are reportedly unhappy about Krafcik’s lack of technical knowledge about autonomous vehicles, which contributed to his decision to side with Alphabet head honchos Larry Page and Sergey Brin regarding unrealistic launch deadlines and hiring freezes.
Page and Brin, for instance, wanted to launch an independent autonomous ride-hailing service with no human safety drivers back in 2016. Waymo’s engineers knew it was a tall order, and they had to convince the management that a mixed fleet would be more realistic. Cars with human drivers could be used for longer drives or to go to destinations Waymo’s cars haven’t previously mapped. As a compromise, the company teamed up with Lyft with the intention of having its manned fleet operate under its partnership with the more established ride-hailing firm.