Driverless Robotaxis Begin Expansion in Santa Monica

The Announcement Comes Shortly After the California Public Utilities Commission Approved a Request From Waymo

By Zach Armstrong

Waymo One, the fully autonomous ride-hailing service from the California company formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, began scaling operations in Los Angeles last week in a 63 square mile area from Santa Monica to Downtown.

The announcement comes shortly after the California Public Utilities Commission approved a request from the Alphabet-owned company to expand in the Bay Area and L.A. County, stating that it complied with regulatory requirements, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Last month, PUC put a temporary halt to Waymo’s expansion for up to 120 days so staff could conduct a review. David J. Canepa, Vice President of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, previously stated that Waymo stifled discussions on its expansion, going on to express concern over incidents in the Bay Area where Waymo cars blocked firehouse driveways and parked on fire hoses. Waymo said at the time that it reached out to stakeholders such as county officials, first responders, and cities, to discuss safety matters.

The recent ruling from PUC allows Waymo’s robotaxis to be deployed on local roads and freeways at speeds no faster than 65 mph.

In October, the company invited Angelinos to test the autonomous driving experience for themselves. Since then, Waymo says over 15,000 fully autonomous rides were taken across Santa Monica, Century City, West Hollywood, Mid-City, Koreatown and Downtown. The average trip rating issued by those riders, according to the company, stands at 4.7 out of 5 stars.

While transitioning to paid service in the coming weeks, Waymo will gradually onboard over 50,000 people who it says currently sit on the L.A. waitlist. Temporary codes will be distributed at local events throughout the city.

“Once an unimaginable future, autonomous driving is now a real-world way of getting around for tens of thousands of people each week,” said Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana. “After achieving key milestones in each city, we’re so excited to bring the safety, comfort and delight of our Waymo One service to more people in Los Angeles and Austin this year.”

To join the waitlist and find out more information, go to https://waymo.com/.

in Hard, News
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