Google is spinning out its effort to create a self-driving car as a separate Alphabet company, called Waymo, and it sounds as if one of its first projects will be a ride-sharing service in partnership with Fiat Chrysler.
The Information reported today that Waymo will pivot away from making its own autonomous car with no steering wheel and pedals. Instead, it will partner with existing carmakers to develop vehicles that have both self-driving technology and traditional car features.
The ride-sharing service appears to be part of that plan.
Fiat Chrysler already is working with Google on a semi-autonomous version of its Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Bloomberg News reported that those vehicles could be used for ride-sharing as early as the end of 2017.
Neither Waymo nor Fiat Chrysler has commented directly on such reports.
In a Medium post, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said his newly spun-out company would continue to build on the years of work that Google has invested in self-driving cars.
“We can see our technology being useful in personal vehicles, ride-sharing, logistics, or solving last-mile problems for public transport,” he wrote.
Eventually, Waymo would offer “fully driverless” solutions for mobility, he said.
Google’s effort to make its own self-driving car goes back as far as 2009. The company’s test vehicles have driven 2 million miles around the U.S. but have yet to be made commercially available.
In August, several outlets reported about Google’s plans for a ride-sharing service within its Waze navigation app that would offer cheaper rates than competitors like Uber, which is investing heavily in its own self-driving fleet.
Ford is working on autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing services, while GM is partnering with Lyft on a similar project. Tesla Motors is planning its own ride-sharing program, currently known as the Tesla Network.
GeekWire’s aerospace and science editor, Alan Boyle, contributed to this report.