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Google Takes on Uber With New Ride-Share Service

Google’s ride-sharing service uses the Waze app to connect with fellow commuters.

Google is moving onto Uber Technologies Inc.’s turf with its own ride-sharing service in San Francisco that would help commuters carpool at far cheaper rates, according to a person familiar with the matter, jumping into a booming but fiercely competitive market.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., GOOGL -0.49 % began a pilot program around its California headquarters in May that enables several thousand area workers at specific firms to use the Waze navigation app to connect with fellow commuters. It now plans to open the program to all San Francisco-area Waze users this fall, the person said, with hopes of expanding the service if successful. Waze, which Google acquired in 2013, offers real-time driving directions based on information from other drivers.

Unlike Uber and its crosstown rival Lyft Inc., both of which largely operate as on-demand taxi businesses, Waze wants to connect riders with drivers who are already headed in the same direction. The company has said it aims to make fares low enough to discourage drivers from operating as taxi drivers. Waze’s current pilot charges riders at most 54 cents a mile—far less than most Uber and Lyft rides—and, for now, Google doesn’t take a cut.

Still, Google’s push into ride-sharing could portend a clash with Uber, a seven-year-old firm valued at roughly $68 billion that largely invented the concept of summoning a car with a smartphone app.

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