Wednesday Will Be a Huge Day for Waymo

Company is launching paid robotaxi rides in LA
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2024 10:35 AM CDT
Coming to LA: Robotaxis
A Waymo logo is displayed on the door of a car at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, California.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Wednesday will be a huge day for Waymo, Google's self-driving car spinoff. The company says it will add Los Angeles to the list of cities where it is offering paid robotaxi services. The company, which also offers the service in San Francisco, says it has more than 50,000 people on a waiting list. Waymo, which has been offering free robotaxi rides to a small group of Los Angeles users since earlier this year, received regulatory approval for the paid service last month, NBC News reports.

"The reception from Angelenos so far has been exceptional, and we look forward to welcoming more riders into our service over time," Waymo product management director Chris Ludwick said in a statement. With an app similar to those of rivals Uber and Lyft, minus the human drivers, Waymo currently operates its vehicles in a 63-square-mile area of Los Angeles, from Santa Monica to downtown.

The Los Angeles expansion was strongly opposed by groups including the Teamsters union, Rideshare Drivers United, and the city's transportation department. But numerous other groups supported the move, including disability rights organizations, the New York Times reports. "This fulfills the dreams of countless blind Americans to have full autonomy over our transportation in the same manner as every other citizen who has a driver's license," Mark A. Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, wrote to the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this year. (In March, a man was charged with grand theft auto after trying to steal a Waymo robotaxi in Los Angeles.)

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