Autonomous ride-sharing startup Waymo Inc. on Tuesday said it hired former National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman as its first chief safety officer.

Hersman will join Waymo in January from the National Safety Council, where she has been CEO and president since 2014, the company said in a statement. As Waymo's first chief safety officer, she will be responsible for field and systems safety for the company's extensive testing and development program.

The hire comes as Waymo gears up to launch the first self-driving ride-share service in the U.S. The company, which is owned by Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) , has been testing the service in a controlled capacity in the Phoenix area. It plans to roll out the service across the city in January.

In addition to Hersman, Waymo also hired its first chief commercial officer, Amee Chande, who will oversee business strategy, operations, and strategic partnerships. Chande joins Waymo after serving as managing director of global strategy and operations for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

"I'm proud to welcome two talented and experienced executives in the field of safety and business operations who will lead us into our next phase of growth," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a statement. "As we begin to make our self-driving cars available to the public, safety will continue to be front-and-center of everything we do."

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