The California Public Utilities Commission is permitting driverless car developers Cruise and Waymo to conduct commercial passenger service using driverless vehicles in San Francisco. The approval includes the ability for both companies to charge fares for rides at any time of day.
Prior to the approval, both companies operated in San Francisco and other areas with specified limitations:
GM-owned Cruise was authorised to offer fared passenger service in limited areas of San Francisco from 10 pm to 6 am without a safety driver present, fared passenger service throughout San Francisco at any time with a safety driver present, and non-fared passenger service throughout San Francisco at any time without a safety driver present.
Google’s Waymo was authorised to offer fared passenger service throughout San Francisco at any time with a safety driver present and non-fared passenger service throughout San Francisco at any time without a safety driver present. Waymo is also authorised to offer non-fared passenger service in parts of Los Angeles and in and around Mountain View with or without a safety driver present.
Additionally, both Cruise and Waymo possess an “Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Program Permit” issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This DMV permit is a prerequisite for AV deployment and is distinct from the CPUC’s permit, which is an additional requirement for companies that provide transportation services to the public using AVs. Participants in the CPUC’s AV programs must also maintain the relevant DMV AV permit in good standing.
“While we do not yet have the data to judge AVs against the standard human drivers are setting, I do believe in the potential of this technology to increase safety on the roadway,” said CPUC Commissioner John Reynolds. “Collaboration between key stakeholders in the industry and the first responder community will be vital in resolving issues as they arise in this innovative, emerging technology space.”
(Picture – Cruise)