Google has entered the ride-sharing arena, partnering with the popular Waze app to match up drivers with passengers.
The Google effort is limited for the time being to a pilot project in the San Francisco Bay area surrounding its headquarters, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Whereas potential ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft heavily mimic typical taxi services – with the chief difference being that the ride-share companies’ cars can be booked online – the Google Waze ride-sharing program is designed to connect drivers and passengers who are traveling in the same general direction—like a high-tech carpooling service.
The fee structure undercuts Uber and Lyft pricing considerably, aiming to cover fuel costs and depreciation of the vehicle up to 54 cents (USD) per mile ($1.12 CAD per kilometer); the fees are not intended to remunerate the driver for his time. At roll-out, Google is not taking any fee; all charges are paid to and kept by the driver.
Unlike Uber and Lyft, Google is not requiring driver background checks prior to approving car owners to drive for the service.
Google invested $258 million USD into Uber back in 2013, but it appears those corporate ties may devolve into a heated rivalry if Google extends this service beyond its pilot project.
Google is currently working on an in-house self-driving car program, and the knowledge and experience gleaned from launching its Waze-based car sharing platform will likely be used to launch an autonomous car-sharing service.