‘Robotaxis’ Transport Increasing Number Of California Commuters

Two companies are battling it out to dominate the Bay Area. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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There’s been a lot of news coverage recently about how tech advancements could mean that robots will soon take various jobs currently being performed by humans. One area in which that is already taking place is among cab drivers.

The rise of automated vehicles has created a new industry of so-called robotaxis — and San Francisco, California, is a compelling proving ground to showcase how effective it can be.

A tale of two companies

At the forefront of this movement are two companies: Waymo and Cruise. While they essentially follow the same broad business plan of providing driverless cab rides for folks across the Bay Area, Cruise has taken an early lead over its chief rival.

Cruise has received the authorization necessary to charge riders for an autonomous trip in its vehicles whereas Waymo can only pick up paying fares if there’s a human driver behind the wheel.

Of course, Waymo does still send its cars out without a driver but those rides are free and reserved for employees or their friends and family.

Appealing to the CPUC

The California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for bestowing the authorization necessary to carry passengers in driverless vehicles, so both companies have a clear interest in making their respective cases.

In recent days, Waymo and Cruise have both appeared before the panel to deliver their quarterly numbers, which revealed a sharp uptick in both the total number of passengers and distance traveled.

  • Cruise carried 2,783 paid passengers in autonomous vehicles, traveling more than 26,838 miles.
  • Waymo took nearly 8,000 passengers more than 410,700 miles, but only 183 trips were in driverless vehicles.
  • Cruise’s total was four times higher than the previous quarter and there was only one minor crash reported during the three-month period.
Chris Agee
Chris Agee February 1st, 2023
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