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September 2, 2016

Google takes aim at Uber with ride-sharing app

It is piloting Waze app for workers around its California headquarters.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google is reportedly planning to launch a ride-sharing service to commuters in San Francisco, rivaling the dominant player in the space, Uber Technologies.

The search engine giant rolled out Waze app, on a pilot basis, for the thousands of workers around its California headquarters in May, allowing them to share the ride, a people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

The company is planning to expand the programme to all San Francisco-area for Waze users this fall.

Waze, a provider of real-time driving directions based on information from other drivers, was acquired by Google for in 2013. The acquisition was intended to improve the features of its Google Maps.

Compared to on-demand taxi businesses run by Uber and its rival Lyft, Waze aims to connect riders with drivers who travel towards the same area, the publication said.

The company wants the fares for the service to be at low levels to prevent drivers from operating as taxi drivers.

Under the current pilot programme, Waze collects at most 54 cents a mile, which is less than charged by Uber and Lyft for most of their rides.

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Google’s entry into ride-sharing space could pose a strong competition to Uber, a private firm which has valuation of about $68bn.

Though Google invested $258m in Uber in 2013, both the companies have now become rivals in certain areas.

After using Google’s mapping software for its ride-hailing service for many years, Uber recently started developing its own maps.

The two firms are also in the process of developing driverless cars.

Earlier this month, Uber purchased Ottomotto, a six-month-old driverless-truck startup founded by Google veterans.

Uber also plans to begin testing robotic taxis in Pittsburgh over the next several weeks.

On the other hand, Google is looking to test driverless cars in a ride-sharing service, , people familiar with the matter told the publication.

Google began testing a Waze carpool service in Israel last year and it rapidly expanded the service to make it available at all hours in most parts of the country.

The pilot programme operated by Google allow any local Waze user to sign up as a driver, however the ridership is limited to nearly 25,000 San Francisco-area employees of several big companies,  including Google, Wal-Mart Stores and Adobe Systems.

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