Waymo, a division of Alphabet Inc. (Google), announced on Monday that it is ready to replace safety drivers from its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, but did not provide a timeline for fully driverless services. Waymo began providing autonomous rides to a small number of people in San Francisco for free in August, with safety drivers on board, using its Jaguar electric vehicles.
Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana said on Monday that the company has offered hundreds of passengers ‘robo-taxi’ rides in the densely populated city in the six months since its launch. According to Mawakana, the planned driverless operation would be “a major step on our path to deploying a fully autonomous commercial service.”
Waymo and its competitor Drive, which is majority-owned by General Motors, received permits from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) earlier this month to allow them to charge riders for journeys in which a safety driver is present in California.
To begin collecting fares for autonomous passenger transportation in California, they must first seek separate permits from the CPUC. Waymo declined to comment on the progress of its application for a driverless permit with the CPUC.