Commuter hours traffic congestion in California is notoriously bad. Google is planning to compete with ride hailing services sometime in the future. Self-driving cars are one possible commuter resource of the future. If you add these three statements together you arrive at a natural conclusion - Google's Waze Carpool service.
Whilst it may look like a fairly benign and very exclusive solution to the traffic problems of the Bay Area, in reality this is Google's first thrust in the battle for the transport economy of years to come. Uber, Lyft and even Apple will have been given pause for thought.
As outlined on the Waze website this is an attempt to use technology, and the information which Waze currently gathers from commuters, to uncover usage patterns that make ridesharing possible. The service will be available only to employees of certain large organisations initially, and only in the Bay Area for now. With the information available to Waze from this limited test environment it should be able to quickly extend the service out to other areas and a wider community.
The success of the service will rely only partially on Waze's ability to match customers up to others with similar commutes. Ultimately it will come down to how willing drivers are to share their vehicles with people they don't know and how flexible working patterns map to small groups of commuters.
Of course there are also America's well catalogued problems with racism, sexism, intolerance and bigotry to contend with.
Hopefully Waze can make this service work, not least because of the positive impact it could have on California's roads, but also because it will prove to the world at large that despite its well reported problems, America can work together as a community.
Bay Area commuters, your country depends on you.