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Waymo Can Now Shuttle Passengers In Its Self-Driving Cars In California

Waymo has received a new permit from the California Public Utilities Commission to shuttle passengers in its self-driving cars. Before this, Waymo was not allowed to transport passengers. CNET reports: In order to be eligible for this permit, the company in question must already have an AV testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which Waymo has had since 2014. It operates a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica and Jaguar I-Pace vehicles, both of which are outfitted with the hardware and software capable of autonomy. This doesn’t mean Waymo One has begun operation in California. That may change in the future, though. There’s a second tier of the CPUC pilot program that allows members of the public to be shuttled around in driverless vehicles, but that tier requires a DMV permit for driverless testing, and what do you know, Waymo has one of those already. All the company needs to do is start testing its driverless vehicles in California to be eligible for this next stage of the CPUC’s pilot.

According to the CPUC website, only four companies have been granted access to the first tier of the pilot program: AutoX, Pony.ai, Waymo and Zoox. Waymo is the only company of the four to receive an exemption to use a third party for contracting the safety operators required in every vehicle. In its letter to the CPUC requesting the exemption (PDF), the company said that “operating and scaling a meaningful pilot requires a large group of drivers who are more efficiently engaged through Waymo’s experienced and specialized third-party staffing providers.” All of its test drivers go through the same training program, the letter says.


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