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Google's Waze introduces new carpool matchmaking feature

The company touted the feature as a way to reduce the number of cars on U.S. roads.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, find me a ride.

Waze, the navigation app owned by Google, on Wednesday announced a new feature that matches riders and drivers to encourage carpooling, providing people with a way to find and even pay for shared commutes.

Known as Waze Carpool, the feature provides commuters with the ability to find each other based on a variety of options including ratings, mutual friends, coworkers, gender and "proximity to preferred route."

"By leveraging the Waze community and connecting the dots between how people are traveling and where they want to go, we can empower everyone to reduce the number of cars on the road now," Noam Bardin, CEO of Waze, said in a press release.

Waze, which had been testing the feature in the Bay Area of California, is rolling out Carpool nationwide.

"Widespread carpooling that substantially reduces the number of cars on the road and therefore improves traffic has long been a challenge," said Juan Matute, deputy director of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies, in the press release.

The system works through two apps — one for drivers (the regular Waze app) an one for riders (Waze Carpool). Riders pay based on distance, with the maximum charge set at $0.54 per mile or a maximum of $15 per ride. Drivers can choose how much to charge per mile and receive the full amount. Waze is not taking a cut.

The new feature is a major change for Waze, which has primarily operated as a crowdsourced navigation app since it was founded in 2006 in Israel. Google acquired Waze for $1.3 billion in 2013, but had not introduced many significant changes the app.

Google's efforts to break into the transportation industry have been stop and start. The company had once been close with ride-hailing leader Uber, though that relationship soured. Google's parent company, Alphabet, is also working on its own self-driving cars through a subsidiary called Waymo.