Uber is trying driverless rides starting Thursday in the Phoenix metro area through a partnership with Waymo. Waymo-enabled vehicles pictured during the 2023 International CES, at the Venetian Convention Center in Las Vegas Jan. 6, 2023. Photo by James Atoa/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Uber announced Thursday it will begin using driverless cars to transport customers in the metro Phoenix area through a partnership with Waymo.
Uber said in a statement that riders in the Phoenix metro area who request an UberX, Uber Green, Uber Comfort or Uber Comfort Electric may be matched with a Waymo driverless ride.
To increase the chance Uber rides will be driverless in metro Phoenix, including Sky Harbor International Airport's 24th St. and 44th St SkyTrain locations, Uber users can opt into the service in the user preferences section of the app.
Those who are matched with a Waymo vehicle will be given the opportunity to accept it or wait for another ride.
Users will have to use the app to unlock the driverless vehicles that arrive to pick them up.
Uber said riders will also have access to 24/7 customer support if assistance is needed at any time during the ride.
The partnership comes after Uber and Waymo reached a $245 million stock settlement in a trade-secret theft case in 2018.
In the lawsuit, Waymo accused Uber of using trade secrets taken by Anthony Levandowski, who headed Uber's Advanced Technologies Group after leaving Google where he worked on a self-driving project that ultimately became Waymo. Levandowski was dismissed from the role by Uber as part of the lawsuit in 2017.
Uber has also faced legal and regulatory challenges to its practice of treating drivers as contractors rather than employees.
The company on Thursday said that for "quite a long time" the numbers of its human drivers and autonomous vehicles will "will continue to grow, side by side."