San Francisco took a significant step toward a driverless future thanks to two crucial resolutions passed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). These resolutions grant GM-backed Cruise and Google’s Waymo permission to operate their robotaxis throughout San Francisco around the clock, charging passengers for their services.
This development has split opinions in the city, with some embracing the convenience of autonomous rides and others worried about potential downsides. However, with Thursday’s vote, San Francisco clearly intends to adopt the driverless era.
Cruise: Full Speed Ahead
In a recent GM earnings call, Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, highlighted the potential for cities to incorporate thousands of these autonomous vehicles. With nearly 400 driverless Cruise cars already in the town, Vogt sees San Francisco as a hotspot for growth in the AV world.
Cruise’s expansion plans are aggressive, with their orange-and-white vehicles seen throughout San Francisco neighborhoods. They intend to keep increasing their fleet’s size, expand the service area, and enhance the overall ride experience for passengers. Despite this aggressive stance, the company emphasizes safety first and wants to scale according to the demand in the city. With plans to enter other towns and impressive reviews from San Francisco riders, the future looks promising for Cruise.
Waymo’s Cautious Strategy
Contrastingly, Waymo has adopted a more gradual expansion strategy. While they’ve been offering 24/7 autonomous rides for a while, it’s only post the commission vote that they can charge for these services. Over the next few weeks, Waymo will invite more riders from their extensive waitlist and expand the service coverage throughout San Francisco.
However, Waymo plans to grow sustainably, balancing demand and supply. They are not in a rush to blanket the city with robotaxis. Instead, the focus is on providing a service that riders will appreciate. The expansion includes cities outside San Francisco, with LA being the new destination for Waymo’s robotaxis.
While Cruise and Waymo dominate headlines, Zoox, supported by Amazon, has also marked its presence in the autonomous vehicle industry. Although they don’t have a public fleet yet, the favorable regulatory environment for Cruise and Waymo may pave the way for Zoox.
Zoox’s cars are unique – designed from the ground up for autonomy, devoid of conventional controls like steering wheels. The company has been testing its vehicles in select areas of San Francisco and has been expanding its operations in recent months. CEO Aicha Evans is optimistic about the future, believing the company is on the cusp of commercializing its services.
San Francisco’s streets are quickly becoming a testing ground for autonomous vehicles, with major companies vying for dominance in the market. As these companies expand their services, we’ll witness a transformation in urban transportation, with robotaxis becoming an integral part of city life. As the autonomous vehicle industry surges forward, all eyes will be on how these companies navigate the road to the future.
Waymo’s Robotaxi: Everything You Need to Know
Take your time being the first in line! Waymo has an impressive waitlist of over 100,000 eager users, which you can sign up for here. Once onboarded, users can easily hail these autonomous taxis via the Waymo One app.
While everyone’s excited, Waymo has hinted at a paced approach. According to a representative, as the service expands its fleet and coverage, it’ll gradually increase users. Unfortunately, there’s no clear indication of how long those in San Francisco might need to wait. It’s worth mentioning that journalists and government officials cannot sign up for the service.
The demand is soaring, as evidenced by the waitlist’s length. “Given the overwhelming interest with over 100,000 on our list, we’ll roll out the service in phases,” commented a Waymo representative last Friday.
Comparing the Cost: Cruise vs. Waymo vs. Uber
- Cruise: They kick off with a $5 starting fee, and then there’s $0.90 per mile and $0.40 per minute. A 1.5% city tax is also tacked on. One plus? No unpredictable surge pricing!
- Uber: The familiar giant charges an initial fee, then adds other expenses such as mileage, ride duration, surge prices, tolls, booking charges, and more. And let’s not forget the optional driver tip – something you won’t be grappling with in driverless cars.
- Waymo: Their pricing strategy encompasses a basic fee coupled with the trip’s duration and distance. A spokesperson said, “Our prices will be in line with other ride-sharing options in San Francisco, adjusted for the quality and demand of our service. We prioritize transparency, ensuring users know the cost upfront before booking.”