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Waymo, the Alphabet company that spun out of Google's former self-driving car division, is partnering with some of the country's largest companies to expand how many people have access to its self-driving vehicles.
In partnerships with five companies, including Walmart, Autonation and Avis, Waymo autonomous vehicles will pick up customers and drive them to various locations in the Phoenix area. In some cases, customers will be offered savings or deals in order to be shuttled around in Waymo vehicles.
“We’ve tailored our partnerships to meet the top rider needs; in fact, the partnerships below represent eight of the top ten activities our riders do when they get in a Waymo,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the partnerships.
Here are the company specific rides Waymo will be providing customers:
The Waymo rides to certain Walmarts in Arizona will start later this week while the other ride offers will begin over the course of the next several weeks.
Initially, the deals will be offered to about 400 people in the Phoenix area who are part of Waymo’s early rider test program and will then be expanded to include others not yet in the program. Some or all of the cost of the rides will be picked up by the companies partnering with Waymo.
Walmart plans to use the service specifically to fulfill online grocery orders, as it’s in the process of bringing grocery delivery to 800 stores by year's end. The retailer will use its personal shoppers will get items to Waymo vehicles to be delivered from there.
Tom Ward, vice president of Walmart’s e-commerce operations, said the company is excited to see “what this pilot and the future hold” before plotting out expansion plans. He said the purpose of the pilot test with Waymo is “to learn” and also to give shoppers “a unique experience with amazing technology.”
It remains to be seen how much Waymo will charge riders when it launches its autonomous ride share service in Arizona later this year.
— CNBC's Lauren Thomas contributed to this reporting.