Waymo is looking to join GM’s Cruise in charging passengers for autonomous rides in San Francisco
December 14, 2022 at 11:38
by Brad Anderson
Waymo has applied for a permit to sell fully-autonomous taxi rides in San Francisco, California.
The application was submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday and if approved, would make Waymo just the second company to be granted such a permit, following in the footsteps of Cruise.
The self-driving division of Alphabet considers San Francisco as a difficult proving ground for its technologies. Speaking with Reuters, Waymo software engineer Andrew Chatham said the company has updated the software controlling the braking and acceleration to make both smoother and cut jitters. Waymo says its improved system is also more assertive.
Waymo has been transporting fare-paying passengers in San Francisco with its autonomous prototypes since May but only while a human safety driver is present. Meanwhile, Cruise has been offering paid, fully-autonomous rides in San Francisco since June.
Read: Waymo Bringing Its Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service To Los Angeles
The company has introduced a host of improvements to its autonomous taxis throughout the year. For example, the dome on the roof now displays the initials of the rider they are picking up. The Waymo app has also been improved and allows the passenger to get help finding the best route to their robotaxi based on data in sidewalks, crosswalks, and other obstacles.
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Waymo is also gearing up to launch its autonomous ride-hailing service in Los Angeles. Thanks to the cities 13 million residents, Waymo says the local area has a market opportunity worth $2 billion, making it the equivalent of a dozen smaller U.S. ride-hailing market opportunities combined. The firm’s vehicles have already driven millions of miles on freeways and is also the first and only company in the world providing autonomous ride-hailing trips to and from an airport. They also drive more fully-autonomous miles in San Francisco than any other company, including Cruise.