Residents of Pheonix, Arizona probably didn’t realize last week that state officials approved the rollout of Waymo’s fully operational and fully autonomous ride-hailing service. Waymo, owned by Alphabet Inc ergo Google, is seeking to use Arizona as a stepping stone to deploying its service across the United States. However, Waymo faces inevitable scrutiny from regulators who want assurances that the ride-hailing service is safe to operate on public roads and not just another proof of concept.
Regulations make investors jittery because they want to ensure their investment returns a profit sooner than much, much later. Waymo’s strategy is to eventually deploy its technology in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The company did not specify any timelines. Waymo was already operating a limited but fully developed service within a small region of Pheonix.
The move to cover the entire state of Arizona is a significant marker for the autonomous technology industry. However, being first to market doesn’t give Waymo an advantage, doing so merely keeps the investors happy.
The global ride-hailing industry is currently worth around $25BN annually. The fully autonomous ride-hailing industry is predicted to be worth over $196BN annually by 2030.
The future market valuation is motivating competitors to join the race to the top of the global autonomous ride-hailing mine. For example, General Motors recently moved its automated driving assistance R&D in-house.