Alphabet’s Waymo announced on Tuesday that it was expanding its commercial self-driving car service by adding 10 vehicles to Lyft’s network in the Phoenix area “over the next few months.” The small scale of the expansion is the latest sign that Waymo is deploying its technology at a more leisurely pace than most people—both inside and outside the company—were expecting a year ago.
Waymo has long been seen as having a significant head start on self-driving technology. In 2018, the company aimed to capitalize on its early lead by launching a commercial self-driving service by year’s end. It arguably met that goal last December, but only under generous definitions of “commercial” and “self-driving.”
The new Waymo One service was not open to the general public—it was initially limited to a few hundred people who had previously participated in Waymo’s closed testing program. And after months of talking up fully driverless technology—including a TV commercial starring late-night host Jimmy Kimmel—every Waymo One vehicle had a driver behind the wheel.
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