Hyunjoo Jin and Palais Dave
Berkeley, CA (Reuters)-Alphabet (NASDAQ :) Inc’s Waymo and rival Cruise have applied for the necessary permits to begin billing for self-driving cars in San Francisco. They are still testing their technology in a dense urban environment.
Neither company revealed when it was going to launch the service. However, they elaborated on a contrasting deployment plan. Waymo starts with “driving maneuvers” and Cruise expects to deploy the vehicle without human driving.
According to the document, the California Automobile Authority (DMV) has not yet decided on a previously unreported application filed by Waymo on January 19th and Cruise on March 29th. Authorities did not make immediate comments on Tuesday.
This effort is a turning point for Waymo, which Google launched over a decade ago. Waymo has been offering paid self-driving cars since 2019 through an app on the outskirts of Chandler, Arizona. But it wasn’t possible to expand Arizona’s business as quickly as analysts once expected.
Its longtime CEO John Krafcik resigned in April and was replaced by two co-CEOs.
Cruises supported by General Motors (NYSE :), Honda Motor Co., Ltd., and SoftBank Group Corp. have focused on San Francisco from the beginning. The permit application records 2 million miles (3.22 million km) of autonomous driving in the city. Waymo said it has more than 83,000 autonomous miles in the proposed deployment area, according to its application.
“In a dense urban environment like San Francisco, the road to meaningful revenue is faster than in the suburbs like Chandler,” said Grayson Brulute, a consultant who advises businesses on autonomous mobility strategies.
Waymo and Cruise could not be contacted immediately for comment.
These companies are not the first to obtain one of the two permits required to operate robotaxis to hire in California. In December, Silicon Valley startup Nuro became the only company to obtain a DMV deployment permit. March Nuro announced unspecified investment from Chipotle Mexican Grill Ink (NYSE :), said it was interested in the new delivery system.
Records show that DMV officials sent a letter to Nuro in March asking if they intend to deliver to California’s fast casual chain. The results of the meeting scheduled for April 16 are unknown.
Once Waymo and Cruise have secured DMV approval, they will then need permission from the California Public Utility Commission to begin charging passengers.
To date, self-driving cars in San Francisco and Silicon Valley have been used primarily on a test basis, despite the increasing popularity of vehicles with rotating lidar gear on the roof. Cruise and Waymo plan to maintain some restrictions during commercial driving amid growing public interest in the safety of autonomous driving systems.
Waymo said in its application that it will equip hybrid Chrysler Pacifica minivans and all-electric Jaguar I-Pace SUVs with safety drivers. They operated 24 hours a day, driving on the road and transporting goods at speed limits of up to 65mph in the north, adjacent to San Francisco and San Mateo County.
Waymo said it could turn off autonomous mode in certain areas, such as highway ramps and construction zones, or in heavy rain or wet roads.
The cruise said the documented service hours would be from evening to early morning at speeds of up to 30 mph.
When ready for commercial expansion, the company will receive $ 1.35 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund as part of its previous investment agreement.
The timeline for deployments that generate revenue for self-driving cars has been repeatedly postponed.
“It’s very difficult for us to solve,” said Timothy Papandreou, a former Waymo employee who currently heads consultancy Emerging Transport Advisors.
This year, Waymo is working with San Francisco’s transportation authorities and university laboratories to provide an unspecified US Department of Energy grant in San Francisco to “investigate AV usage and provide first-mile / last-mile transit services.” We are also discussing how to secure. Public record seen by Reuters.
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