April 20, 2024


Image for article titled Waymo is about to make L.A. traffic much more robotic

Photo: Paresh Dave (Reuters)

Waymo, Alphabet’s robotaxi service, struck gold in the Golden State: California regulators will allow Waymo’s driverless taxis to operate in Los Angeles and grow its reach in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The decision, handed down on Friday, will be Waymo’s biggest test since it first spun up rumors of becoming a driverless competitor to Uber back in 2018. Los Angeles is the second biggest city in the U.S., and eyes from local transportation departments and city agencies will be closely judging how the rollout goes — even if they don’t have say on whether it should even be a go (in California, state regulators, not local ones, have the final say about where robotaxis can operate, according to Wired. The local ones really didn’t want this expansion).

The exact dates when Waymo’s service will start up in L.A. haven’t been set, though they’ll likely hit roads in the coming months. It has been testing rides with passengers on board in L.A. for the past year, according to the Los Angeles Times, and has been operating in Phoenix since 2020.

Waymo’s greenlight in California comes less than a month after it issued an extensive software recall on Feb. 13. That came in the wake of an incident in which two Waymo cars crashed into the same truck being hauled by a tow truck minutes apart in Phoenix at the end of last year. No one was hurt in those accidents.



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