Robotaxis Now Allowed to Operate in California

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Companies can now launch robotaxis in California after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) granted approval to charge for and offer shared rides. According to an article published by TechCrunch, the decision was made on Thursday.

Companies operating robotaxis will be able to charge for driverless rides, as long as they go through the government’s new approval process. There is a catch, however — the approval process could take up to two years.

This decision brings the efforts of the automated vehicle industry to fruition since they had been advocating for this change in rules for months.

Much like Tesla taxis, the all-electric self-driving robotaxis will be a friend to the environment with a significant decrease in vehicle emissions.

“This long-awaited agency action will allow Waymo to bring our fully autonomous Waymo One ride-hailing service to our home state over time,” wrote Annabel Chang, head of policy at Waymo, in an emailed statement.

Waymo LLC, an American autonomous driving technology development company, already had driverless taxis operating in parts of Phoenix, Arizona. In partnership with Daimler AG, they also plan on bringing self driving trucks to their customers.

Self-driving taxi companies will receive the required permits only after they meet the criteria (including a few that have to do with reporting) set by the CPUC and California’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Companies can apply for permits to offer driverless taxi services with or without shared rides. They will also be required to submit a safety plan along with operational data such as pickup and drop-off locations for individual trips (anonymous, of course), fuel type used by the vehicles, miles traveled carrying passengers, and total miles traveled.

Tesla’s previously announced robotaxi network has yet to come to fruition, but if and when it does, it should be allowed to operate in California, given this latest announcement.

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