Waymo driverless rides to reach seven new Bay Area cities

Image Credit: Waymo

Waymo, the driverless ride-hailing company owned by Google parent company Alphabet, is now looking to begin testing in a number of new cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, following the company’s approval to expand gained earlier this year.

After Waymo gained official approval to expand operations to Los Angeles and other parts of the San Francisco peninsula last month, the company said on Friday that it will begin testing driverless rides in seven new Bay Area cities in the “coming weeks” (via San Francisco Chronicle).

While Waymo was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to expand paid driverless services to as many as 22 cities on the peninsula, the company will start with new operations in Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, Millbrae, San Bruno, and South San Francisco this month.

The initial round of testing in the new cities will only be available to employees to start, though Waymo eventually expects to begin offering the service to customers and taking paid rides.

Below you can see the area where Waymo has been approved to operate in the Bay Area.

Credit: Waymo

Despite the expansions, the company also faces legal challenges from the City of South San Francisco, San Mateo County, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance. In addition, a bill introduced in the state earlier this year could give individual communities more control over where driverless vehicles are operated, potentially restricting Waymo’s service areas.

Waymo was originally approved to operated paid robotaxi services 24 hours a day in San Francisco in August, alongside that of General Motors (GM) self-driving subsidiary, Cruise. Increased skepticism surrounding driverless ride-hailing services comes after a Cruise robotaxi struck, dragged, and pinned a pedestrian in October, causing the immediate suspension of the company’s permit to operate driverless vehicles.

The news also comes as Tesla has announced plans to unveil its own robotaxi platform in August, based on its Full Self-Driving (FSD) software. The company has already shared screenshots from a forthcoming ride-hailing app, and FSD has begun its expansion beyond North America, with the system now set to begin rolling out in China.

Waymo riders most frequently travel to these areas of San Francisco: data

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Waymo driverless rides to reach seven new Bay Area cities
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