Waymo’s plans to expand its robotaxi business in California have been halted by regulators

Waymo’s plans to expand its robotaxi business in California have been halted by regulators

State officials have halted Waymo’s intention to extend its robotaxi service into Los Angeles and other areas south of San Francisco. The decision was made in response to many instances involving the driverless cars owned by Alphabet, one of which was a Waymo vehicle that struck a cyclist and caused minor injuries.

Waymo’s proposal for increased service has been placed on hold “for further staff review” by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which decided last summer to enable robotaxi companies to operate all the time, according to the agency’s website. The hold is scheduled to end 119 days from now, on June 19, 2024.

The majority of San Francisco and a small piece of Los Angeles make up the company’s present service area; the suspension has no bearing on its ability to operate there. However, it does provide authorities more time to evaluate Waymo’s expansion ambitions in the state, particularly in light of local governments’ growing concerns about safety.

The planning department, the city attorney for San Francisco, and a number of other city agencies filed a move in August of last year asking the CPUC to put a stop to the company’s intentions to charge for robotaxi trips in the city at all hours. San Mateo County has asked for further details regarding Waymo’s intentions to grow its service.

“Waymo has stalled any meaningful discussions on its expansion plans into Silicon Valley,” according to a statement provided to TechCrunch by David Canepa, vice president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. He further stated that the CPUC “has put the brakes on its application to test robotaxi service virtually unfettered both in San Mateo and Los Angeles counties.”

An email from Katherine Barna, a Waymo representative, stated that “the ‘suspension’ of an advice letter is a procedural part of the CPUC’s standard and robust review process.”

A group of demonstrators damaged the windows of an autonomous Waymo car earlier this month, setting it on fire. The incident was supposed to represent the unhappiness that many residents of the city have with the company that operates the driverless vehicles.

Waymo has acknowledged receiving support from numerous community organizations in state-filed records, including organizations that work for the rights of the disabled and have praised the development of autonomous vehicles.

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