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Waymo's commercial driverless ride-hailing service gains Arizona nod

After a year of testing its fleet of autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans on Arizona's public roads (along with a parallel testing in California), Waymo has now received permission from the state's Department of Transportation (DoT) to ferry paying riders around the region.

Arizona's DoT designated Alphabet's ride-sharing subsidiary as a Transportation Network Company (TNC), meaning it can start charging passengers of its self-driving cars a fixed rate for transportation fee. It's not immediately clear, however, how much riders will have to pay for the service. Waymo has also yet to announce when it plans to begin transporting customers, though it's expectedto do so sometime this year.

Waymo applied for the permit last month, and as Quartz reported, the application included images of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which would possibly be used for the commercial service. It's not known, though, how many such vehicles will be deployed in Arizona. Late last month, Google's autonomous car spin-off signed a deal with Fiat Chrysler to buy thousands of more Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

With the TNC designation, Arizona DoT's Ryan Harding says that passengers will soon be able to book a Waymo ride using their smartphones or computers. The service is expected to work in the same manner as that offered by Uber and Lyft, with the primary difference being that Waymo's vehicles are not manned.

It's worth noting that Waymo is a pioneer of self-driving car services as a means of public transportation. In April last year, it began offering free rides in its autonomous vehicles to Phoenix residents as a part of its Early Rider program.

Source: Bloomberg

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