Two programs that allow companies to offer races with the use of self-driving cars and charge for them were approved on Thursday by the California Public Service Commission, the US regulatory agency. However, it is too early to celebrate the arrival of “robotáxis”, since companies need to go through the approval process of the agency – and many allege excessive bureaucracy.
In principle, those who wish to work with or without a driver, as well as with shared trips or not, can apply. To do this, they must obtain various licenses – including a “Level 3” letter of recommendation – and fulfill several requirements, in addition to sending security plans and quarterly reports that provide a series of information.
Among the data required are places of embarkation and disembarkation for individual trips, availability and number of runs accessible to those who use wheelchairs and services for needy communities, in addition to the type of fuel and distances covered. Considering the whole process, according to GM’s Cruise, it takes up to two years for the cars to run.
It’s a beginning
There are those who celebrate the movement, even with all the “but”, because the decision was made after months of pressure exerted by the autonomous vehicle industry – even though it has no immediate effect and requires a lot of dedication from those who want to enter the market of the future.
Waymo, formerly known as Google’s Autonomous Car Project, is an example: “We are pleased with the approval of a state regulatory framework for autonomous commercial hitchhiking, as this long-awaited action will allow for the gradual implementation of our services in California,” says Annabel Chang, the company’s head of policy, in an official statement.