Waymo, Cruise cleared to charge for driverless rides

Waymo and Cruise have been granted the green light to charge for their driverless rides. 

According to the intelligence provider website, Data AI, a substantial number of users have already downloaded the applications for Cruise and Waymo in the past week.

Last week's approval from the California Public Utilities Commission marks a significant step in the evolution of driverless transportation. 

Both Waymo and Cruise can now offer rides to passengers with charges attached, which was not previously allowed. However, this change has come under scrutiny due to a series of incidents involving autonomous vehicles.

In the days following the commission's decision, driverless cars, including those operated by Waymo and Cruise, have been involved in a series of incidents causing disruptions to emergency services and even resulting in collisions, including one incident with a fire truck. 

In response to these incidents, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has requested a 50-percent reduction in the number of driverless vehicles operated by these companies.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, a long-standing critic of autonomous vehicles, emphasized that the technology is not yet ready for widespread deployment and expressed cautious optimism about the fleet reduction.

"We’re pleased that they’re reducing the fleet size temporarily, but there’s a lot of work to do and bottom line is we want them to adopt the approach that we have suggesting which is an incremental expansion based on these companies meeting performance that we all agree on," Peskin said.

Before the recent decision, Waymo and Cruise were permitted to offer rides, often with a safety supervisor on board, but these rides had to be provided free of charge. 

City Attorney David Chiu of San Francisco is currently advocating for a pause on the implementation of these fare charges. 

Despite the ongoing debate, the permits now also enable Waymo and Cruise to operate their driverless ride services 24 hours a day.