Waymo approved to expand operations in California, with some backlash


Waymo, the self-driving startup owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has been approved by a California agency to expand operations to Los Angeles, after previously only serving the city of San Francisco within the state.

On Friday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved Waymo’s recent request to expand to the Southern California city, though a few counties and other groups in the state have submitted protests. Still, effective on March 1, Waymo can operate driverless ride-hailing operations in Los Angeles, as well as to additional areas of the San Francisco Peninsula.

“CPED approves Waymo’s updated PSP and authorizes expansion of Waymo’s Driverless Deployment service to the areas of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Peninsula it has requested,” the agency wrote in the letter. “Waymo may begin fared driverless passenger service operations in the specified areas of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Peninsula, effective today.”

According to the letter detailing the approval and statements from the state’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division (CPED), the agency received 81 supportive responses from state counties and other organizations, while it received protests from the following five municipalities and groups:

  • City of South San Francisco
  • County of San Mateo
  • Los Angeles Department of Transportation
  • San Francisco County Transportation Authority
  • San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance

“We’re grateful to the CPUC for this vote of confidence in our operations, which paves the way for the deployment of our commercial Waymo One service in LA and the SF Peninsula,” the company wrote on X on Friday. “This wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing support of our riders, community partners, and policymakers. We can’t wait to bring the benefits of the Waymo Driver to more riders in more places!”

You can see the full CPUC letter approving Waymo’s LA expansion below, along with the proposed expansion areas that have been approved below that.

Credit: Waymo

Credit: Waymo

In Arizona, Waymo recently expanded its driverless testing operations to include highways around Phoenix, expected to make ride times significantly shorter for passengers. In both states, the company operates Jaguar I-Pace vehicles equipped with several sensors to perform driverless rides.

Last month, California Senator Dave Cortese also introduced a bill that could create more barriers for Waymo and other companies trying to expand self-driving operations. The bill, dubbed SB 915, aims to give local municipalities more power in deciding where driverless vehicles can operate in their own communities, which could limit further expansion efforts or approved operation areas.

Waymo has also faced some criticism in downtown San Francisco, where it was approved to operate driverless vehicles for 24 hours a day in August. Protests against the company started last year with pedestrians placing a safety cone on the hood of Waymo vehicles, which would sometimes stop the vehicles from operating. At the time, the group responsible, called Safe Street Rebel, said that it expected such protests to become more commonplace.

Last month, a group of people surrounded a Waymo robotaxi and began vandalizing it, eventually setting the vehicle on fire by lighting fireworks off inside of it. In response to the incident, Waymo said the driverless vehicle “was not transporting any riders and no injuries have been reported,” adding that the company was “working closely with local safety officials to respond to the situation.”

Waymo driverless robotaxi attacked and set on fire in San Francisco

What are your thoughts? Let me know at, find me on X at @zacharyvisconti, or send your tips to us at

Waymo approved to expand operations in California, with some backlash


Source link