Waymo to start offering free driverless robotaxi services in Los Angeles

By Thomson Reuters Mar 13, 2024 | 12:12 PM

(Reuters) – Alphabet’s Waymo said on Wednesday it will begin offering free driverless robotaxi services to select members of the public in Los Angeles starting Thursday.

The company received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) earlier this month to start its ride-hailing program, Waymo One, in Los Angeles and some cities near San Francisco.

Waymo’s latest plans put it ahead of its General Motors-owned rival Cruise, which is currently facing scrutiny after a driverless Cruise car dragged a pedestrian 20 feet after an accident.

The company said services will be available across 63 square miles from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, adding that the initial rides will be free.

“We’ll permanently welcome riders into our service, gradually onboarding the more than 50,000 people on our LA waitlist and continuing to hand out temporary codes at local events throughout the city,” Waymo said in a blog post.

The company further added that it will expand its operations in Los Angeles over time and transition to paid services in the coming weeks.

Waymo started autonomous services for its employees in Austin, Texas, making it the fourth autonomous ride-hailing city after San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

It plans to offer Waymo One to the broader public in Austin later in the year.

(Reporting by Harshita Mary Varghese; Editing by Tasim Zahid)