Robotaxi leader Waymo is expanding its ridesharing service to the greater San Francisco area.
The Alphabet-owned company announced the larger service area on Monday via a message on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. This means riders can now travel in Waymo driverless vehicles within a 47-square-mile area of the city.
Although Waymo has offered rides to a few thousand customers primarily in San Francisco’s northeastern neighborhoods, the expansion brings the ride-sharing service to tens of thousands of riders, TechCrunch. etc reported.
Waymo’s move comes amid protests by some city residents who are concerned that the technology that powers autonomous vehicles is not yet ready for use on public roads.
The concerns arise following a number of major incidents involving self-driving vehicles operated by rival autonomous car company Cruise, which is owned by General Motors.
As recently as last week, a Cruise vehicle struck a pedestrian right after he was hit by another vehicle, sending him into the path of an autonomous car. The Cruise car braked hard but stopped with one of its wheels hitting the pedestrian’s leg, pinning him to the ground.
In a further challenge to Cruise’s operations in the city, the company was ordered by regulators to halve its robotaxi fleet to 50 vehicles following a collision with a fire truck that left the autonomous car’s occupants with minor injuries.
Just days before the incident, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which oversees commercial passenger service in the state, made a major decision clearing the way for Cruise and Waymo to expand their paid ridesharing services in San Francisco to all hours. throughout the day, not just the quiet times.
Recent events show that there is still much debate between city officials who want to pave the way for autonomous vehicle innovation and those who want to take a more cautious approach to the technology.
While few would argue that autonomous systems powering driverless cars have improved significantly in recent years, recent events show that urban roads are a complex arena where a multitude of unexpected situations occur and test the capabilities of driverless cars. to the limit. .