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Waymo Expands Robo-Shuttle Test Partnerships

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Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo autonomous vehicle unit is expanding its testing of fully autonomous vehicles in Arizona with several new partnerships.

This summer Waymo will begin offering free autonomous rides in specially equipped Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans to Walmart stores—for customers who order groceries online—and a local mall in the metropolitan Phoenix area. Initially, such services will be limited to participants in the “early rider” pilot program Waymo launched earlier this year in Phoenix.

The tech company also will shuttle business travelers staying at the Element Hotel in Chandler, Ariz., to and from nearby offices. In addition, Waymo is partnering with Avis Budget and AutoNation to allow select consumers to rent self-driving Pacificas.

Waymo says the partner companies will pay for the ride service, but it didn’t reveal the financial terms. The tech company aims to expand the tests to other cities later.