The California Public Utilities Commission has awarded Waymo a permit to take part in the state’s self-driving vehicle passenger service pilot program. This means that Waymo will be able to pick up passengers with its self-driving cars. However, Waymo may not charge drivers during this pilot program and there must always be a human safety driver behind the wheel.
As part of this pilot program, it will only be giving rides to company employees and their guests in a limited service area in the South Bay. This includes the neighborhoods of Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto.
Waymo isn’t actually the first company to participate in this program, it’s the fourth. Autox Technologies, Zoox, and Pony.ai have all received similar permits. The permit is valid for three years but isn’t similar to California’s self-driving vehicle testing program. The California DMV has given permits to more than 60 companies to test their self-driving cars in the state.
With the latest permit, Waymo is that much closer to launching a robot taxi service in its own state. However, Waymo says that it doesn’t have a timetable to launch a commercial taxi service in California just yet. It did so in select areas of Phoenix, Arizona last year with Waymo One.