Waymo is a systems engineering company that specializes in developing autonomous driving car technologies and a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Google uses autonomous cars for purposes like Google Maps street views.
Waymo has designed autonomous car systems in partnership several manufacturers such as Audi, Chrysler, Toyota and Lexus. The company also has their own autonomous automobile designs, assembled by Roush Enterprises. Since initial testing, Waymo is considering starting a paid driverless ride service in California.
In 2015, the inaugural, unescorted, driverless ride by autonomous vehicles on public road was in Austin, Texas. Stephen Mahan, a blind friend of principle engineer Nathan Fairfield, took the first ride. In May 2018, Waymo announced a trail plan to begin offering a driverless ride system in Phoenix, Arizona before the end of 2018. Waymo is positioned by Alphabet to offer an app-hailed, driverless ride service to compete with Uber, Lyft and taxis.
In February 2017, Waymo sued Uber, alleging that Uber stole industry trade secrets to create their own driverless ride service. Waymo alleged that three former employees stole 9GB of data containing hundreds of trade secrets when they left the company to join Uber. In February 2018, a settlement was reached through the payment of $244 million in Uber equity and Uber’s promise not to infringe on Waymo’s intellectual property.