Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise have taken a huge step towards offering the public rides and deliveries with their autonomous vehicles in California. According to Reuters, the companies have asked California’s Department of Motor Vehicles for permission to start charging for those services. Waymo reportedly submitted its application on January 19th, detailing its plans to begin its operation with drivers behind the wheel. Meanwhile, Cruise applied for a permit on March 29th and intends to deploy vehicles without drivers at all.
Both Waymo and Cruise have been testing their autonomous vehicles in the state for quite a while now, though the latter has more experience navigating California roads. In their applications, Cruise said it has logged 2 million autonomous driving miles in San Francisco, thus far, whereas Waymo noted that it has logged over 83,000 autonomous miles in the city. Unlike Cruise, which focused on San Francisco from the start, the Alphabet company is a lot more active in Phoenix, Arizona. That’s where Waymo first started testing its self-driving technology and where it’s currently offering fully autonomous rides through the Waymo One service.
While Waymo will start with paid deliveries in autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel, it told Reuters that it could eventually offer fully driverless rides for passengers. It will deploy hybrid Chrysler Pacifica minivans and all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs, which would operate around the clock in San Francisco and in the northern part of San Mateo County. The company said it may switch off autonomous mode in certain areas like freeway ramps and construction zones, as well as for certain conditions like heavy rain and wet roads. Cruise will also limit its operations to “certain routes” and “non-inclement weather conditions.”
California’s DMV granted the state’s first Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Permit to delivery service Nuro earlier this year, but it has yet to issue a decision on these particular companies’ applications. After getting the proper permit from the DMV, though, the companies will still need to get permission from the California Public Utilities Commission before it can begin charging passengers.
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