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Google To Expand Waze Navigation Service

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On: Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 9:07AM | By: Carl Malek

Google To Expand Waze Navigation Service

Waze has already proven to be a formidable piece of software that has some neat and clever features to help keep it fresh. However, a new report suggests that parent company Google is expanding Waze to allow the program to assist the tech giant in launching an all-new carpooling service.

This latest news announces the expansion of Google's testing of a ridesharing program in the San Francisco Bay Area. The small trial is limited to employees of Google, Walmart, and Adobe Systems. The idea here is to let the employees from these three firms use the Waze app to coordinate carpool arrangements with their fellow co-workers. A Google spokesperson said in a statement to Popular Mechanics that the program has been well received, and the firm is considering a bigger test that would allow the service to be open to anyone located in the rest of the Bay Area. This bigger audience would give Google the chance to see how the system performs in more real world testing. It would also let them find and overcome the challenges of with providing a carpool service a larger area..

Unlike existing services such as Uber and Lyft that are more focused on being profit-generated enterprises, Google's aim is to be a pure 'ridesharing' service that would eliminate some of the hurdles and problems that have arisen with others, especially with Uber. The participants in the Waze-assisted program do pay a small per-mile fee, but the funds from this fee do not go into Google's coffers. They are, instead, given to the driver to help them pay for fuel as well as the vehicle's wear and tear incurred from ridesharing. It will be interesting to see how the fee process is regulated and what kind of oversight is put into place to ensure that the funds from the per-mile fee are used properly.

In addition to its broader plans for its ridesharing program, Google is testing a fleet of autonomous vehicles to see how they perform in the real world. Google did build several early prototypes of these e-vehicles, but a recent deal with FCA has allowed the California-based tech company to also test its self-driving technology in specially equipped Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The hope here is that the driverless cars would be a rival to Uber though the technology is still in the early stages of development, and it would probably be several years before the system is ready to be available to the public.

Google, for its part, did not reveal a formal timetable on when it plans to eventually launch this expansion of its Waze carpooling service, but look for more information to trickle out from the company in the next few years, especially as the system gets closer to formal production and ultimately implementation into the mass market.


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