Last July, Google tiptoed into ride-sharing, rolling out a carpooling service with Waze in Israel, its home country.
Now comes the bigger step. On Monday, Waze, the popular Google-owned navigation app, said it was testing the service in San Francisco — homeland to Uber and Lyft, which are using the city to test their ambitions in tech-assisted carpooling.
Unlike those startups, which first targeted the tech-savvy tired of taxis, Waze is going the corporate route. Its Silicon Valley pilot is starting with more than 25,000 employees of select companies that schlep workers from the city to the South Bay. Those employees can, after downloading a new Waze app (Waze Rider), hitch rides with drivers using Waze and pay drivers through the app.
When the Israel program launched, Waze insisted it was not an Uber rival. Uber drivers drive for Uber to make fares. The Waze pilot just connects people with commuting drivers who already happen to use Waze. (Google is taking a 15 percent cut in Israel, but said it isn't taking one yet in San Francisco.)
Both Waze and the ride-sharing behemoths are testing the waters of private transportation patterns and behavior ahead of the arrival of autonomous cars. For its self-driving cars, Google parent Alphabet may lean on Waze for help — both for its ties to local governments and, with this new pilot, its ties to corporate campuses.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.