JERUSALEM Google-owned online mapping company Waze is launching a carpooling pilot program in Israel where commuters pay fellow drivers a small fee for a ride to and from work.
The new application, called RideWith, will use Waze's navigation system to learn the routes drivers most frequently take to work and match them up with people looking for a ride in the same direction.
Google bought Israel-based Waze, which uses satellite signals from members' smartphones to offer real-time traffic information, for about $1 billion two years ago.
"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 of its foray into the increasingly competitive field of ride-sharing.
Drivers will be limited to just two journeys a day and will not be able to earn a salary from RideWith, a source close to the company said, differentiating it from businesses such as Uber [UBER.UL], where drivers can turn a profit.
Should RideWith be rolled out globally, this limitation could help it avoid the backlash Uber is facing in a number of countries that want to protect professional taxi drivers.
Waze does not expect there to be enough drivers to meet demand at first, but as more sign on, passengers will be able to order a ride either to or from work while chipping in a bit for the cost of gas and wear and tear on the car, the source said.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Tova Cohen and Mark Potter)