Waymo to expand autonomous vehicle rides to San Francisco

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. ride-hailing service / raɪd ˈheɪ lɪŋ ˈsɜr vɪs / (n.) – a type of service where customers hire a car and a driver usually by using an app

    Leo booked a ride-hailing service for his friend who was too drunk to drive home.

  2. autonomous / ɔˈtɒn ə məs / (adj.) – relating to a machine’s ability to operate on its own without human control

    Some restaurants use autonomous robots to deliver food to customers’ homes.

  3. elaborate / ɪˈlæb əˌreɪt / (v.) – to add more details to explain something clearly

    The celebrity refused to elaborate on her reasons for quitting the show.

  4. resident / ˈrɛz ɪ dənt / (n.) – a person who lives in a particular place

    The apartment residents complained about the lack of parking spaces.

  5. subsidiary / səbˈsɪd iˌɛr i / (n.) – a company that is owned and managed by a larger company

    My boss is currently on a business trip to one of our company’s subsidiaries.


Read the text below.

Waymo’s self-driving ride-hailing service is branching out to San Francisco.

The autonomous vehicle unit of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said Wednesday that it started carrying employees in electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs without human backup drivers. Previously the company had been testing the vehicles with a safety driver behind the wheel just in case.

Waymo didn’t elaborate on when it might offer autonomous rides to the public in San Francisco. The company has been using autonomous minivans without human backups to carry passengers in the East Valley of the Phoenix metro area since 2020.

Waymo also announced Wednesday that soon it will expand driverless rides to Downtown Phoenix. The program will start by carrying Waymo employees with safety drivers in the vehicles, with a goal of opening those rides to residents who join a “trusted tester” program soon after. No date was given for when the humans would be pulled from the vehicles.

The testing in San Francisco comes as competitor Cruise LLC, a General Motors subsidiary, is seeking a permit to charge for fully autonomous rides in the city. Cruise is operating a small fleet of autonomous vehicles that it opened to the general public at the beginning of February. GM expects to get a permit to charge passengers for autonomous rides this year.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • If given the chance, would you try riding an autonomous vehicle without a human backup driver? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • How do you think self-driving ride-hailing services could affect traditional taxi services? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think are the pros and cons of autonomous machines? Discuss.
  • Aside from cars, what other machines would you like to be autonomous (ex. helicopters, medical robots)? Discuss.