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Self-Driving Robotaxi Service Is Getting Close to Launch

Google ride-hailing giant Waymo is preparing to debut its commercial self-driving service in Phoenix in December.

According to Bloomberg through an anonymous source, the program will cover a small area, including participants from its Early Rider program, which previously was restricted to the Chandler, Arizona area. Revenue streams will be divided between a passenger service and for business use, shuttling customers to and from retailers, including Avis and Autonation.

Although remote human operators will be monitoring rides, backup drivers will also be on hand to operate some of the vehicles. No word on Google’s timeline for launching in other markets.

So far, Waymo has arguably the most vaunted ride-hailing program, with 10 million test miles on public roads under real driving conditions. Other self-driving services, such as Drive.ai and Boston-based Optimus Ride, have also made in-roads, with analytics firm Allied Market Research projecting the autonomous vehicle market to reach close to $600 billion in market value within the next eight years.