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Waymo One launches commercial self-driving taxi service

by Justin King

The shift is incremental, as service will initially be offered to a few hundred people already involved in the pilot project.

Waymo has officially launched its commercial self-driving service, slightly rebranded as Waymo One.

The announcement marks incremental progress for the company. 'Commercial' presumably means riders will begin paying for rides, but the program is still limited to a few hundred people in the Phoenix suburbs who have already been getting free rides in the company's pilot project.

For the commercial launch, Waymo safety drivers have been placed on board "at first." The company has already offered fully driverless rides during the initial pilot, however, and expects to "gradually" return to driverless operation.

Waymo has not outlined a timeframe for expanding into more markets, offering rides to the general public or removing safety drivers.

"Self-driving technology is new to many, so we're proceeding carefully with the comfort and convenience of our riders in mind," says Waymo chief John Krafcik.