Alphabet and GM get the green light for robot taxi fleets

Self-driving car companies are allowed to expand in San Francisco. California regulators support the technology despite local concerns.

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to allow General Motors-owned Cruze (ticker: GM ) and Waymo, part of Google-parent Alphabet ( GOOGL ), to offer paid rides in driverless vehicles around the city around the clock. On the day, with unlimited vehicles.

Self-driving…

Self-driving car companies are allowed to expand in San Francisco. California regulators support the technology despite local concerns.

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to allow General Motors-owned Cruze (ticker: GM ) and Waymo, part of Google-parent Alphabet ( GOOGL ), to offer paid rides in driverless vehicles around the city around the clock. On the day, with unlimited vehicles.

Self-driving cars are appearing in many US cities, but as they spread, so do concerns about their safety. San Francisco officials have opposed expanded self-driving permits, but the statewide commission has jurisdiction over passenger transportation.

“We don’t have the data yet to evaluate AVs [autonomous vehicles] “I believe in the potential of this technology to increase safety on the road against the standards set by human drivers,” CPUC Commissioner John Reynolds said in a statement.

Fully self-driving cars are expected to eventually be big business—GM hopes that software and self-driving applications could generate $80 billion in annual sales by 2030—but right now they’re loss-making projects. Alphabet shares fell 0.4% on Friday and GM fell 0.9% amid broader market declines.

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Waymo said in a blog post that the waiting list for its San Francisco commuter services has more than 100,000 people and will continue to grow.

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“Today’s approval marks the true start of our business operations in San Francisco,” said Waymo co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana.

GM and Alphabet aren’t the only companies looking to benefit from the development of self-driving cars. Tesla
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( TSLA ) vehicles currently require driver supervision, but CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly said the company wants to eventually build a robotaxi. Amazon.com ( AMZN ) is also expanding into the space through its Zoox business.

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Write to Adam Clark at [email protected]

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