Waymo Wants to Expand Self-Driving Taxi Fleet to LA

The company has applied for a license to launch operations is Los Angeles

Graham Hope

January 23, 2024

3 Min Read
A Waymo vehicle on a road in California.

Waymo has confirmed it wants to expand its self-driving taxi operations to Los Angeles.

In a post on X, the company said it had put in an official request for a license to be granted.

The post read: “We’ve applied to the @californiapuc to extend our driverless service to LA, and we’ll continue our work w/ local policymakers, first responders & community organizations there. Angelenos, join us for a ride.”

View post on X

There was also a link urging potential riders to sign up for the Waymo Tour in the city, an initiative that has been running since October.

If offers the opportunity to sample the self-driving taxis in specific neighborhoods across LA. Santa Monica, Century City and West Hollywood have all been covered already, with Waymo heading for Koreatown in February, and downtown in March.

However, while the tour is a chance for curious locals to get a taste of Waymo’s converted Jaguar i-Pace SUVs, the application to CPUC – the California Public Utilities Commission – signals the company feels ready to operate a full fleet of the taxis in the city.

Waymo is already running commercial services elsewhere in California, having been granted a license by CPUC in August last year to run 24/7 in San Francisco.

The company is also well established in Arizona, where it operates a driverless service across a 225 square-mile area of Metro Phoenix, including in downtown and at the city’s Sky Harbor International Airport.

Related:Cruise, Waymo Get OK for Self-Driving Taxi Fleets in San Francisco

It has a major partnership with Uber and earlier in January, confirmed plans to expand further in Phoenix, with driverless testing of its fleet of Jaguars on the city’s highways ready to be rolled out.

As yet, there has been no comment from CPUC on the LA application. However, it comes at a tricky time for self-driving taxis at large, and in California in particular.

Waymo’s chief rival Cruise has been left reeling by a tumultuous end to 2023, which saw it suspend all operations, shed hundreds of staff and fire a number of executives, following the mishandled aftermath of a crash involving one of its converted Chevrolet Bolt self-driving taxis in October.

Cruise is scheduled to appear at a hearing with CPUC on Feb. 6 to explain why it was not fully transparent about what happened and to respond to the accusation it made misleading comments regarding the crash.

While Waymo was not involved in this incident, it is unclear as to the effect it might have had on the general appetite of regulators to let fleets of autonomous taxis loose on the streets of the state’s major cities.

Related:Waymo Offers Self-Driving Taxi Curbside Service at Phoenix Airport

However, it has left Waymo aware of the need to promote its safety credentials. In December, Waymo published data that it said proved its self-driving taxis were safer than humans.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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