Waymo robotaxis approved for expansion in LA and San Francisco

Waymo’s robotaxis has been approved for expansion by the California Public Utilities Commission. The driverless taxis already operate in parts of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Now they’ll be allowed to drive further outside the city centers into neighboring counties, including the heart of Silicon Valley.

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Driverless cars have become a contentious issue in San Francisco, where officials report that they interfere with public safety and labor advocates say they will put taxi drivers out of work. In October 2023, competitor Cruise was suspended by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles after a September 2023 report from the San Francisco Fire Department that claimed two Cruise robotaxis had blocked an ambulance that was carrying a patient who later died. After the incident, Cruise halted all driverless projects across the 15 US cities and remains inoperative today.

Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary, is one of the more prominent robotaxi services still in operation. Just this week, Apple announced it was abandoning its attempts to develop driverless car technology. Tesla is reportedly attempting to develop its own electric driverless taxi system but has yet to present prototypes to the public.

In a report from November, local CNBC reporter Deirdre Bosa likened being driven by one of Cruise’s driverless taxis to being “driven by a student driver,” and described several close calls and multiple instances of being honked at during a 20-minute ride. Her Waymo ride was, by comparison, “unremarkable.”




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