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Waymo launches Trusted Tester shuttle program in San Francisco

This is an expansion of the Waymo One program seen in Phoenix, though still under testing.

Waymo Jaguar I-Pace
If you're lucky and a San Francisco resident, you might be getting autonomous rides in one of these soon.

Waymo recently took the opportunity to show off a little by publishing some images of what its fifth-generation Driver AI sees while navigating a public road. It turns out that those images were just a prelude to Tuesday's announcement that Waymo will be offering its shuttle service in San Francisco, but not everyone can use it.

If not for everyone, then who is it for? Right now, it's for members of the Waymo One Trusted Tester program, which is open to a limited number of people, but anyone can sign up through the Waymo app starting Wednesday. The shuttle service will be available anywhere in Waymo's SF service area, and unlike the Waymo One shuttle service in Phoenix, this one will have a safety driver behind the wheel.

The service will mostly use Waymo's specially modified Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs, equipped with the fifth-generation Waymo Driver AI. In addition to the I-Paces, Waymo will deploy wheelchair-accessible vehicles -- probably Pacifica vans, like the ones used in Arizona -- so that people of all mobility levels can take part in the testing program.

Waymo hasn't given a timeline for how long this phase of testing will last or whether it eventually plans on opening up the shuttle service to anyone in the area with the app like it has in Phoenix. We suspect that given the added complexity of San Francisco's geography and infrastructure, plus the more intense regulation that California has imposed on self-driving vehicles, it'll be a while.

Now playing: Watch this: A ride on public streets in Waymo One