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Waymo can now charge for robotaxi rides in Los Angeles and on San Francisco highways | TechCrunch

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Waymo received approval Friday afternoon from the California Public Utilities Commission to operate a commercial robotaxi service in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Peninsula and on San Francisco freeways.

THE approval removes the final obstacle allowing Alphabet to charge for trips in these expanded areas. Importantly, it opens new territory for Waymo in one of the nation’s largest cities and unlocks a route to San Francisco International Airport, located south of the city.

Waymo has operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week commercial service throughout the city of San Francisco since receiving commission approval in August. Waymo is also allowed to offer people free driverless rides in parts of Los Angeles. But until today’s approval, it was unable to charge for rides in Los Angeles.

Last month, the CPUC Division of Consumer Protection and Enforcement suspended Waymo’s request to extend its robotaxi service in Los Angeles and San Mateo counties for up to 120 days to allow additional time for review. The CPUC said it received 81 responses and five protests, which the agency said “required additional time beyond the 30 days to carefully review and incorporate into the staff decision.” The five protests came from the southern city of San Francisco, San Mateo County, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance.

Waymo, which launched a community tour of Los Angeles in October, was wrapping up its final stop in the neighborhood while awaiting final approval.

waymo tekedra mawakana strictly vc

Image credits: TechCrunch

The CPUC’s decision comes just a day after Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana discussed the future of the company and the broader autonomous vehicle industry. on stage at Strictly VC LA. She said Waymo robotaxis had received a “warm welcome” in the city with more than 15,000 people using the service. Mawakana said travel data showed customers were using the service for their daily errands — evidence that she said suggested the service would work well commercially in Los Angeles.

“It’s exciting to see that 2,000 of these trips are like people are doing very, very basic errands, it’s true that doing an errand in a Waymo is like using it for your life,” Mawakana said. “Similarly, people take it to restaurants and bars at the same time, 2,000 trips. And then, 300 of these trips involve people who go to school, university and K-12. So we love that signal that people are not just welcoming us warmly, but actually integrating into their lives.

She said 50,000 people had joined the waiting list to use the service in Los Angeles.

Mawakana suggested Thursday evening that Waymo would not immediately start charging for rides in Los Angeles if it received approval. (which of course happened a day later).

“We will, as we did in San Francisco, expand our service before we start charging,” she said. “And I mean, you know, it’s like we kind of show up and you can experience this for a few months or several months without paying. And then we have this moment of truth, which we experienced in San Francisco, where we start charging, and then we figure out how many people have actually integrated it into their lives. What price are they willing to pay? »

You can watch the full interview below.

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