California Lets Self-Driving Taxis Loose In San Francisco All Day and Night

Rising robotaxi services Waymo and Cruise will roam the streets of San Francisco like feral, autonomous, teenage hooligans after a state public utility agency licensed the companies to drive at any time of the day or night, even without a security driver steering.

After a grueling session late Thursday that lasted more than six hours, the California Public Utilities Commission agreed to enable self-driving cars from General Motors and Google to roam San Francisco at any time of the day or night. The commission approved the measure by a vote of 3 to 1.

Now, robotaxi companies Cruise and Waymo are allowed to go anywhere they want within San Francisco city limits without a security driver present. Previously, Cruise was restricted to certain areas of the city from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. without a security driver present, but was allowed to exit at any time with a driver in the presence of a driver. Waymo was also allowed to serve passengers everywhere with a security driver.

To thwart the critics, the Commission wrote to both companies: resolutions that it will “intensify cooperation” with the Department of Motor Vehicles and state law enforcement to keep tabs on these driverless cabs. The commission also urged the companies to work more closely with residents and city officials, both of whom have had serious complaints about it Robotaxis block traffic, disrupt public transit, and make other illogical movements on the street.

The livestream meeting went late into the day as residents rose to voice their concerns and ask the commission to vote no. Some local residents expressed support for the services, saying they helped some disabled drivers who were struggling with human interaction. Other transport and accessibility advocates noted that self-driving cars “leave people with disabilities out in the cold” because they cannot help passengers load mobility devices like human taxi services can.

Mara Math, a senior member of San Francisco’s Paratransit Coordinating Council, said: “Remember the Jetsons? We were promised that automation would bring us a golden age. And as always, it was more of a golden shower for us.”

Other residents shared fears of more cameras on the streets and job losses in transportation, and general concerns that self-driving cars would hamper emergency vehicles. The San Francisco Fire Department recently claimed self-driving cars have hindered their fire engines and emergency responders 66 times from the beginning of the year to July.

Some San Francisco residents were so upset with the vehicles They had gone around putting traffic cones on the hoods of the robotic taxis. Protesters claimed this slowed them down and they needed to be reset, although Waymo previously told us people were misinformed about how these automatic electric vehicles work.

One of the CPUC commissioners, John Reynoldsformerly served as General Counsel GM-backed robotaxi company Cruise from 2019 to the end of 2021. Other elected officials of the city called Reynolds to withdraw from the controversial vote, but the commissioner claimed the “passing of time” gave him enough leeway to cast his vote.

Unsurprisingly, the companies couldn’t be happier with the vote. Kyle Vogt, Cruise co-founder and CEO, wrote, “It’s a huge milestone for the AV industry.”

Waymo celebrated CPUC’s decision, with co-CEO Takedra Mawakana saying it marked the “true beginning of our commercial operations in San Francisco,” despite the company having operated in the city since 2020. The company said it had 100,000 signups on its waiting list.

Just last month, the human safety driver was implicated in the first fatal pedestrian death at the hands of an autonomous vehicle pleaded guilty to endangerment because I wasn’t paying attention at the wheel. This sets a precedent for the people responsible for collisions being the ones supposedly “operating” a robotaxi. However, it has not been clearly defined who is responsible when a fully autonomous car kills someone. This and other topics will certainly continue to be discussed and defined as more robotaxis and other AVs hit the streets.

Zack Zwiezen

Zack Zwiezen is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Zack Zwiezen joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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