Traffic navigation app Waze is expanding deeper into ride sharing with the California-wide launch of its carpool service. Owned by Google, the service has an opportunity to be a huge source of data on routes, how long rides take when there are multiple stops along the way, and what makes for a good group travel experience—all information that may be beneficial to Alphabet‘s self-driving car developments. Waze head of business development, Josh Fried, says that, for now, the only thing Waze and Waymo share are the cafeterias on Google’s campus.
The new carpool service will particularly focus on Los Angeles, where drivers suffer the worst traffic jams in the world. There it will compete with taxi-sharing services Lyft Line and Uber Pool. Fried says the Waze Carpool is fundamentally different, because it matches regular people (often commuters) along a route and booking mostly happens in advance. He also wants people to feel compelled to fill the empty seats in their car: “All the seats in your car should be seen as an opportunity to give you coworkers and friends a ride in the direction that you’re already heading.” Fried says he doesn’t know how or when Waze Carpool will come to the rest of the U.S., but notes that it will probably start with states that participate in its data exchange program. Waze Carpool is also supposed to come to Brazil later this year. RR