California Approves Waymo Driverless Taxis

Waymo’s autonomous vehicles can begin picking up passengers in Los Angeles and San Francisco in spite of opposition from local officials.

1 minute read

March 6, 2024, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Close-up of back of white self-driving Waymo car on San Francisco street.

A Waymo autonomous car in San Francisco, California. | Diana Vyshniakova / Adobe Stock

Despite local concerns and recent federal investigations into the safety of autonomous cars, the Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division of the California Public Utilities Commission gave Waymo the go-ahead to operate autonomous taxis in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In an article in Smart Cities Dive, Dan Zukowski notes that ‘Waymo, which already operates paid driverless robotaxi service in San Francisco and Phoenix, can begin service in the additional areas immediately following the CPUC’s determination that local officials’ objections do “not state proper grounds for protest.’” Local officials say they want more decision-making power in how and when robotaxis are deployed in their cities. In a letter to the CPUS, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass wrote, “local jurisdictions like Los Angeles have had little to no input in AV deployment and are already seeing significant harm and disruption.”

While, according to the company, the crash rate for Waymo vehicles is 85 percent lower than human-operated vehicles, multiple high-profile crashes have drawn concern from city leaders and federal regulators. 

Last fall, another autonomous car manufacturer, Cruise, suspended its driverless operations as part of an effort to boost public trust. 

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