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Waymo expands robotaxi service to all in San Francisco

Waymo expands robotaxi service to all in San Francisco, drops waitlist
Waymo expands robotaxi service to all in San Francisco, drops waitlist 03:29

Robotaxi service Waymo on Tuesday announced its autonomous vehicles would be available for rides to anyone in San Francisco who downloads the company's app.

The announcement was made with a blog post Tuesday morning. Waymo had been only accepting requests from riders selected from a waiting list that had grown to 300,000 people.

"The wait is over. Starting today, anyone can hail a ride with Waymo in San Francisco. Rain, shine, or Karl the Fog, just download the app, and ride," the post read.  

San Francisco becomes the second major city where Waymo's robotaxis are open to all interested riders. The company has been providing Phoenix residents with driverless vehicle rides since 2020.

Waymo One: Now open to everyone in San Francisco by Waymo on YouTube

A YouTube video posted to accompany the announcement said Waymo's autonomous cars have provided over 3.8 million miles in driverless rides within San Francisco through the end of March, 2024.

Last month, it was revealed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation was looking into 22 incidents in which Waymo's robotaxis were either involved in solo-vehicle crashes or "exhibited driving behavior that potentially violated traffic safety laws."  

In February, the company's planned expansion in California cities was temporarily stopped by the state Public Utilities Commission. The announced move frustrated public officials who indicated Waymo didn't consult them about the expansion. The suspension, which was for up to 120 days, was lifted in March and Waymo began operating in San Mateo County and in Los Angeles.

Also in February, a Waymo robotaxi collided with a bicyclist in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood, leaving the cyclist with minor injuries. In another February incident, a Waymo vehicle was vandalized and set on fire by a group of people in San Francisco's Chinatown.

State Senator Dave Cortese (D – San Jose) tried passing new legislation this year to put regulatory powers for automated vehicles in the hands of local governments.

He pulled his bill, Senate Bill 915, after "the bill's essential element of local control was being stripped out by the Assembly Transportation Committee."

"There was a sharp difference of opinion of whether there should be any local control whatsoever and I'm still flabbergasted by that. We believe that it's really a commonsense approach," Cortese told CBS News Bay Area on Tuesday. "We are very slow in the state capitol. For example, my bill just died last week. We can't introduce another bill now until January. It's just a six-month down period. Well, by that time, the technology might improve dramatically. Or we may find out that the unintended consequences are growing rapidly. So, you want local governments involved. They're nimble, they can react, they know their cities, they know their streets, (and) they know their situations."

Cortese plans to reintroduce SB 915 at the beginning of next year.

Kevin Ko contributed to this report.

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