Today, Waymo, Google's self-driving car division, announced that it has launched the first public trial of their self-driving taxi service, which they've been quietly testing in Chandler for the past year.
And as part of the trial process, Phoenix residents (including people in Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert) can sign up to get unlimited free rides. If accepted, you can use the service pretty much like you'd use Uber or Lyft — you'll be able to request a car with an app, and then get a ride to wherever you need to go within the metro Phoenix area. But unlike with Uber and Lyft, you won't have to pay for it.
At least, not directly. You'll be effectively doing free R&D for a multibillion-dollar company, while handing over your privacy and a lot of valuable consumer data to Google.
If you're cool with that and want to join the trial program, you can fill out an application here. You'll be asked about where you live, what three locations besides your home you visit most frequently, and if your household includes kids, senior citizens, or people without driver's licenses.
Waymo also wants to know why you're interested in joining the trial program. Keep in mind that they're only accepting a few hundred people at this time, and want to "learn from people with diverse transportation needs," according to their FAQ. So you can probably improve your chances by writing something that goes beyond the obvious (i.e. "I'm tired of paying for gas").
After you've applied, you may get a follow-up e-mail with more questions, Waymo says. From there, they'll let you know if you've been selected to join the program.
Like with the self-driving cars that Uber is currently testing in the Tempe area, Waymo's self-driving cars will initially have a driver sitting at the wheel in case of an emergency. New Times' Ray Stern got a ride in one earlier this year: you can read about how it went here.
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