Autonomous Vehicles

Waymo app launches on Google Play, expanding access to self-driving fleet

You'll have to be chosen from Waymo's waitlist before snagging a ride, though.

The app won't do you much good if you're outside Waymo One's service area.

Waymo

Waymo One, the Google subsidiary's commercial AV ride-sharing program, went live back in December, but Waymo had to personally grant you access to its app to get in on the action. Now, the company's making it much easier -- although you might still have to wait a while before being chosen to join the club.

Waymo on Tuesday announced that the app for the Waymo One service is now available through Google Play. Previously only available through Waymo itself, now anybody with an Android phone in the Phoenix area can hop into Waymo's app and… wait a bit.

After signing up in Waymo's app, you're placed on a waitlist. At that point, it's up to Waymo to promote you from the waitlist to the real-deal Waymo One service. Once you've moved on up, though, you'll be able to request a ride in one of Waymo's autonomous vehicles within the predefined area within Phoenix where the service operates.

Waymo One operates using a fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. For the time being, there's still an operator in the front seat for safety's sake, but Waymo said it may add true driverless vehicles to the fleet in the future. The vehicles are outfitted with additional hardware to help riders feel at ease, including screens that display the route and buttons for pulling over or calling Waymo's helpdesk. Roadshow's own Tim Stevens took a ride when the service launched in December, and he found it met his admittedly high expectations, but members of the public have been invited to take rides in Waymo's cars as far back as April 2017.