Feb 17, 2023 - News

Exclusive: Waymo expands service in San Francisco

waymo car in front of city hall

A Waymo autonomous vehicle in front of San Francisco City Hall. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Waymo on Friday expanded its service area to offer autonomous rides to more parts of San Francisco, a Waymo spokesperson told Axios.

What's happening: Waymo is getting closer to serving the entire city with this latest expansion, which includes the addition of coverage in the Mission, Dogpatch and Potrero Hill (see map below, courtesy of Waymo).

  • Waymo's service is currently only available to riders in its limited Waymo One program.
  • Areas like Russian Hill, Chinatown, downtown and South Park are still restricted only to Waymo employees and their guests.
  • Waymo also rolled out some new updates, enabling its autonomous vehicles to parallel park during pickups and dropoffs, and more easily navigate around double-parked cars and construction.
Waymo's service area today compared to December 2022. Axios Visuals; map courtesy of Waymo

Context: Waymo's able to offer fully autonomous rides in San Francisco as a result of receiving a special permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in November.

  • Yes, but: Waymo needs one more permit from the CPUC to be able to charge for fully driverless rides in the city, which are currently free.

Between the lines: The San Francisco County Transportation Authority, along with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, complained to the CPUC about Waymo and its competitor Cruise in January.

  • They said Waymo's desire to commercially deploy self-driving vehicles throughout all of San Francisco "is unreasonable" due to concerns around road and transit disruptions, a lack of data transparency and more.
  • Last month, for example, a Waymo car inadvertently blocked traffic due to "unexpected temporary road closures" in "a very complex and busy intersection," a Waymo spokesperson previously told SFGATE.

What to watch: If and when the CPUC provides a permit to Waymo to allow the company to begin charging for fully autonomous rides.

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