April 23, 2024

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Waymo has received approval to launch a robotaxi service in Los Angeles

Waymo has received approval to launch a robotaxi service in Los Angeles

Waymo's self-driving robot car has arrived in Los Angeles, as seen in this undated photo provided by the company.

Driverless cars have been testing in Los Angeles for more than a year, but now Waymo has received approval from state regulators to begin a robotaxi service with passengers in the near future.

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved self-driving car service in Los Angeles and San Mateo counties. Waymo – owned by Alphabet, Google's parent company – will be allowed to operate self-driving vehicles to transport passengers in the next few months.

Waymo spokeswoman Julia Ilana told Washington Post The company “will take a careful and gradual approach to expansion.” Ilana adds that their self-driving cars won't immediately be driving on Los Angeles County highways.

Los Angeles residents have the opportunity to take free, fully autonomous Waymo One rides in Los Angeles neighborhoods for a limited time
A driverless taxi from Waymo drives down the street during a test ride in San Francisco, on February 15, 2023. Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, and Waymo, a subsidiary of Google, are both on the verge of operating 24-hour services that will It transports passengers through one of America's most populous cities in vehicles where no one will be in the driver's seat.  (AP Photo/Terry Shea)
FILE - Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego arrives in a Waymo self-driving vehicle on Dec. 16, 2022, at the Sky Harbor International Airport Sky Train facility in Phoenix.  Self-driving car leader Waymo announced on Thursday, May 4, 2023, that its robotaxi will be able to transport passengers across most of the Phoenix area for the first time.  (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

However, some local officials are opposed to allowing Waymo to operate self-driving vehicles in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass wrote a letter to the CPUC last November expressing her opposition to allowing self-driving cars to transport passengers.

“Until now, local jurisdictions like Los Angeles have had little or no input [autonomous vehicle] “We are seeing significant spread and are already seeing significant damage and disruption,” she wrote.

Bass also pointed to an incident in August of 2023 when a Waymo vehicle failed to stop for a traffic officer at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Poudre Street, though no one was injured at the time.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn also does not support the CPUC's ruling.

“This is a dangerous decision,” Han said Written on X, formerly known as Twitter. “These robots are largely untested, and Angelenos should not serve as guinea pigs for big tech companies. Decisions like this should be based on city information, not over city objections.”

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