Waymo’s Robotaxi Expansion Plans in the State of California Halted By Regulators

Waymo’s Robotaxi expansion plans in the state of California were halted by regulators. The California Public Utilities Commission wants way more time to effectively review the application from the alphabet-owned company.

Waymo’s Robotaxi Expansion Plans Halted by Regulators

Waymo’s Robotaxi Expansion Plans Halted by Regulators

State regulators have halted Waymo’s plan to expand its Robotaxi service in Los Angeles and southern San Francisco communities following a series of incidents involving the Alphabet-owned company’s driverless vehicles. This decision comes after an autonomous Waymo vehicle was involved in an accident with a cyclist, resulting in minor injuries.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which previously approved allowing robotaxi companies to operate around the clock, has now placed a hold on Waymo’s application for expanded service. The hold, enacted for further staff review, is scheduled to last until June 19th, 2024 — 119 days from the current date.

The Suspension Does Not Impact Waymo’s Current Service Area

While the suspension does not impact Waymo’s current service area, which covers most of San Francisco and a portion of Los Angeles, it provides regulators with additional time to evaluate the company’s expansion plans. This pause is particularly significant as local authorities express safety concerns regarding Waymo’s operations.

In August of last year, San Francisco’s city attorney and several city agencies filed a motion urging the CPUC to halt Waymo’s plans to offer Robotaxi rides in the city at all hours. More recently, San Mateo County has requested further information regarding Waymo’s proposed service expansion.

What Vice President of San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors have to Say about the Development?

Vice president of San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors, David Canepa claimed that “Waymo has stalled any meaningful discussions on its expansion plans into Silicon Valley,” and that the CPUC “has put the brakes on its application to test Robotaxi service virtually unfettered both in San Mateo and Los Angeles counties,” as per a statement provided to TechCrunch.

CPUC’s Standard and Robust Review Process

“‘The ‘suspension’ of an advice letter is a procedural part of the CPUC’s standard and robust review process,” Katherine Barna, a spokesperson for Waymo, in an email stated.

Earlier this month, there was an alarming incident involving a driverless Waymo vehicle where a crowd of individuals smashed its windows and eventually set it on fire. This unsettling event was seen as a manifestation of the widespread discontent among many city residents towards the autonomous vehicle operator.

In documents submitted to the state, Waymo has highlighted the support it has received from numerous community groups, including those advocating for disabled individuals. These groups have expressed appreciation for the advancements in autonomous vehicle technology and its potential benefits.



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