Both Waymo and Cruise have been operating in San Francisco for a while. Since they launched, both companies have been offering free rides in the area to people willing to get driven around in an autonomous taxi. However, it would appear both companies are now looking to start making money off of their autonomous fleets.
Both Waymo and Cruise have applied for permits in California that would allow them to start charging for rides and delivery services in San Francisco. If the applications are approved, it would be the next stage of the rollout for autonomous delivery and passenger services in the US. It would also mark a new test for the vehicle platforms in dense urban areas.
Neither of the companies have confirmed when they might start providing paid services. The two firms also plan different approaches. Waymo wants to offer “drivered operations,” which presumably means with a safety driver behind the wheel. On the other hand, Cruise plans to deploy its vehicles without any human oversight behind the wheel.
Currently, the DMV in California has yet to approve either company’s request to expand its operations. Waymo reportedly filed its application on January 19th, with Cruise filing on March 29. The DMV in California is still considering the applications at this time. Waymo has 83,000 autonomous miles in the deployment area, where it wants to begin charging for services.
Waymo said that its permit was requested to allow complete paid deliveries in autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel. Another startup called Nuro was the first to successfully get permits to operate paid services in California. That company also announced a deal with Chipolte Mexican Grill Inc. for delivery services using the autonomous vehicles.