Robotaxi: Californian Authority Recommends Approval

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) in California, which is responsible among other things for the licensing and regulation of cab services, is preparing in its next meeting scheduled for November the licensing of autonomous robotaxis with and without safety drivers.

In the 130-page document with the unwieldy title “DECISION AUTHORIZING DEPLOYMENT OF DRIVERED AND DRIVERLESS AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE PASSENGER SERVICE“, the comission has sought the views of various interested and affected parties, and describes the right and duties included for license holders.

For example, the agency recommends the unrestricted approval of robotaxis with and without safety drivers for the public throughout California for a fee. Destinations such as airports should also be allowed to be approached.

The commission pursues four goals:

  1. Protect passenger safety;
  2. Expand the benefits of autonomous vehicle technologies to all of California’s communities;
  3. Improve transportation options for all, particularly for disadvantaged communities and low-income communities;and
  4. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, critical air pollutants, and toxic air contaminants, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

The Commission will collect data to monitor permit holders’ progress toward each of the goals.

The Commission will collect data to monitor the progress of marketing authorization holders towards each of the targets. This will require companies to provide detailed quarterly reports, including the type and number of journeys, anonymized data on pick-up and destination, incidents, fuel types of vehicles, as well as the services offered to disabled or disadvantaged groups.

The PUC has already granted some of the 66 companies with a California test license for autonomous cars a permission to transport passengers during these test drives. Up to now, it has not yet been possible to calculate fees for this, nor, for example, to drive to airports. With the launch of Waymo One, a commercial driverless robotaxi operation in Phoenix, the technology is now ready for California to open a nationwide licensing program.

This article was also published in German.

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