Google is looking to take on ride-sharing startup Uber with a carpooling service, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Alphabet-owned company has reportedly been testing the carpooling service in San Francisco, Calif., since May with a limited test group, but it plans to take it city-wide later this year.
Google, coincidentally an investor in Uber, is aiming to help commuters join carpools through its Waze app. The goal of Google's carpooling service isn't to become taxi-like but to allow workers heading in the same direction to pair up for one ride, saving money for the riders. The test group is said to be 25,000 workers from local, large tech companies.
Google acquired Waze, a company that crowdsources information to give you better directions, in 2013. Waze is charging the test group "at most" 54 cents a mile, which is said to be less than Uber and Lyft rides.
Google isn't taking a fee -- right now. No different from Uber and Lyft, Waze isn't bringing drivers on as employees of the company, but rather contractors. Google won't vet the drivers and will rely on user reviews, according to the report.
Google isn't commenting on the Waze-based service. It's not clear if the new carpooling service will expand to other markets, or if this is simply a tool to test Waze's technology on Google's home turf. Waze currently has 65 million users.
While Google was an early ally to Uber, things are looking rocky. The Information reported earlier this week Uber has shut out an board member and senior Alphabet executive, David Drummond, from attending board meetings. Uber later confirmed Drummond left its board.
The Financial Times reported in July that Uber is looking to reduce its dependence on Google Maps by investing $500 million in new technologies.
Ride sharing is big business. Uber has privately raised $18.06 billion, and Lyft has raised $2.04 billion, and both are located in San Francisco. Past testing for Waze, Google could be paving the way for driverless cars to shuffle us to and from work. Uber has already begun testing something similar in Pittsburgh.