Both Waymo and Cruise have been given the go-ahead by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to offer autonomous vehicle rides in the state of California. The permission does come with some pretty severe restrictions for both companies, with limits on the number of vehicles, where they can operate, and in some cases, if they need a human safety driver.
That’s the good news, which lets the two companies start commercial services in the state. To actually get paid for shuttling those passengers around, both companies still need yet another permit from the California Public Utilities Commission.
Cruise has a slightly better set of restrictions on their rides, as the company was successful in getting a driverless pilot permit in June. It can have five fully autonomous vehicles on the roads, without the need for a safety driver. Those vehicles can offer rides on surface streets in some parts of San Francisco between 10 pm and 6 am, at a maximum of 30 mph, and can operate in light rain or light fog.
Waymo still needs to have a human sitting behind the steering wheel, as a safety driver in case the car does something untoward. Their vehicles are allowed to drive in some parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties and at up to 65 mph. They also have to come off the roads if the weather worsens past light rain or fog. Their Chrysler Pacifica minivans and Jaguar I-Pace SUVs will be operating around the clock.
Another company, Nuro, is already offering autonomous delivery services in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Their vehicles are only delivering goods, not offering passenger rides.