Google is testing a Waze-powered carpooling program in Israel, according to multiple reports.
The service, called RideWith, will let people pay drivers a "small fee for a ride to and from work," reports Reuters. The service launched today in Tel Aviv.
So, is Google jumping into the on-demand ridesharing space – and does Uber now have some big competition?
Not really – at least not with this specific pilot program. Google has placed limits on it, which make it difficult to call it any sort of a "competitor". From the Wall Street Journal:
To avoid regulatory hurdles such as the ones facing Uber, Waze will limit drivers’ ability to generate income by connecting them only with passengers who wish to join the route they take to work and back, and limiting the driver to two rides a day. Drivers will only be able to pick up passengers if they leave from their home neighborhoods and drive toward their workplaces, or the other way round.
Passengers can pay drivers for the ride through their credit cards linked to the app, but only for gasoline and wear and tear. The prices will be determined through the app based on indices for the cost of gas per kilometer and indices for wear and tear.
"We're conducting a small, private beta test in the greater Tel Aviv area for a carpool concept, but we have nothing further to announce at this time," Waze told Reuters.
No, this isn't a direct shot at ridesharing companies, but it's clear that Google is at least testing the waters here. It's known that both Google and Uber are currently moving in on each other's turf.