The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has given Waymo permission to expand its robotics operations to Los Angeles and other locations on the San Francisco Peninsula, despite opposition from local groups and government agencies. “Waymo may begin driverless passenger transportation services in designated areas of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Peninsula, effective today,” the regulator wrote in its answer (PDF). Like CNBC notes that Waymo has been testing its driverless vehicles in these locations for some time, but this decision will allow it to charge passengers for their robotic rides.

In the decision, the CPUC acknowledged that it had received letters protesting Waymo’s expansion from the City of South San Francisco, San Mateo County, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance. And it got those letters before the agency halted Waymo’s expansion efforts in February for up to 120 days after the Alphabet-owned company was revealed to have issued a recall on its vehicles. Waymo then said two of its robots collided with a pickup truck that had been towed in December 2023 because its software had incorrectly predicted the truck’s movement. The company had to develop and implement a fix to its fleet.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass sent a letter to the CPUC (PDF) expressing her concerns about the regulator’s decision to allow autonomous vehicles to operate in her city. “To date, local jurisdictions like Los Angeles have had little or no input into AV deployment and are already seeing significant harm and disruption,” she wrote. David Canepa, vice president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, also it said in a statement on this recent development: “I’m confused and a little suspicious that it only took the CPUC 11 days to change its mind on the suspension. I find this outrageous and disingenuous. We have not had conversations to address our concerns and it is telling to me that neither Waymo nor the CPUC cares about the local issues and public safety of our residents.”

However, Waymo spokeswoman Julia Ilina reassured the public in a statement to With cable that the company will take a “phased approach” when it comes to rolling out the service in Los Angeles. It also has no “immediate plans” to expand its service to San Francisco. She also said Waymo will continue to “work closely with city governments, local communities and [its] Ilina also noted that while the CPUC received letters of protest, it also received letters of support for Waymo’s expansion from 81 organizations and individuals. These include letters from various elderly and disabled groups, local community councils as well as transport advocates.

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