Robotaxis score a huge victory in California with approval to operate 24/7

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After a six hour hearing, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to open the floodgate to autonomous vehicles. Public comment was sharply divided over the expansion of self-driving cars in San Francisco.

Waymo and Cruise were approved to operate their paid robotaxi services 24/7 in San Francisco after a contentious six-hour public hearing in which residents voiced their support and opposition to the vehicles. It’s a big win for autonomous vehicle operators, who have spent tens of billions on the technology with very little return.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted 3-to-1 in favor of allowing the two companies to operate their vehicles at any hour of the day throughout the city of San Francisco while charging for rides.

“Today is the first of many steps in bringing AV transportation services to Californians,” CPUC Commissioner John Reynolds said at the end of the hearing. (Reynolds, a former general counsel at GM-backed Cruise, had recused himself from previous votes, but said “the passage of time” allowed him to vote on today’s resolution.)