Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and General Motors Co.’s Cruise autonomous-driving units are one step closer in their quest to launch their robotaxi services. The California DMV issued “autonomous-vehicle deployment permits” to Cruise and Waymo on Thursday, allowing the companies to charge a fee and receive compensation for autonomous services offered to the public.
That allows the Alphabet
units to go beyond testing programs but it’s not without restrictions. Commercial “robotaxi” services would also require authorizations from the California Public Utilities Commission. Thursday’s DMV deployment authorization gives Cruise permission to use light-duty driverless cars on designated parts of San Francisco between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at a top speed limit of 30 mph. The vehicles are allowed to operate in light rain and light fog, the DMV said. “Today’s approval from the California DMV makes Cruise the first and only autonomous ride-hail company to receive a driverless deployment permit in the state,” Rob Grant, Cruise senior vice president, said in a statement. “It brings us one step closer to achieving our mission to make transportation safer, better and more affordable in cities with our fleet of all-electric, self-driving and shared vehicles.” Cruise has had state authority to test autonomous vehicles on public roads with a safety driver since 2015 and authority to test autonomous vehicles without a driver since October 2020, the DMV said. Related: Tesla unveils $199-a-month Full Self-Driving subscription plan — but there’s a catch Similarly, Waymo is authorized to use a fleet of light-duty AVs for commercial services within parts of San Francisco and neighboring San Mateo county. The vehicles can operate on public roads on top speeds of 65 mph, and can also operate in rain and light fog, the DMV said. Waymo has had state authority to test autonomous vehicles on public roads with a safety driver since 2014 and received a driverless testing permit in October 2018. Mountain View, Calif.-based Nuro Inc. in December was the first company approved to operate a driverless delivery business in the state. Both Waymo and Cruise have been building toward offering San Francisco-area robotaxi services for years. Waymo in August started offering free rides to residents as part of a test program that involved downloading its own app. Safety drivers are at the wheel ready to take over as it navigates the often congested, steep San Francisco streets. Neither company immediately returned requests for comments.