Waymo and Cruise Obtain California DMV Approval to Function Driverless Automobiles


The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Thursday approved permits for the use of autonomous vehicles for the GM-backed Cruise and Alphabets Waymo. It allows companies to charge and receive compensation in certain areas for autonomous services offered to the public, such as ride hailing.

The companies are still in need of approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, according to the California DMV, but that means the companies are one step closer to providing services to the general public outside of a testing program.

Both companies have tested fleets of autonomous vehicles in California with permits that give passengers in test vehicles free driverless rides.

Under the new permit, Cruise vehicles will be allowed to run on public roads in certain parts of San Francisco between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., even in light rain or fog, but not more than 30 miles per hour, the ministry said. Waymo can operate its fleet at or below 65 miles per hour in parts of the San Francisco and San Mateo counties, even in rain or light fog.

Commercializing autonomous vehicles has been far more difficult than many predicted a few years ago, but Waymo and Cruise are considered two of the frontrunners.

In May, both Waymo and Cruise applied for approvals for travel and delivery charges. Cruise requested not to have a safety driver while Waymo requested to have a safety driver, Reuters reported.

In June, Cruise received approval allowing it to offer driverless rides to passengers in test vehicles in California. Waymo opened self-driving car testing to some San Francisco residents last month through a program called Trusted Tester.

Since acquiring Cruise in 2016, GM has attracted investors including Honda Motor, SoftBank Vision Fund and, more recently, Walmart and Microsoft.

“Today’s approval from California’s DMV makes Cruise the first autonomous ride-hail company to receive a driverless license in the state. It brings us one step closer to our mission of making urban traffic safer, better, and more affordable. self-driving and shared vehicles, “said Rob Grant, Cruise’s senior vice president of Government Affairs and Social Impact, in an email to CNBC.

In December 2020, Nuro became the first autonomous vehicle developer to receive permission to make commercial deliveries with trading partners.

– Michael Wayland and Lora Kolodny contributed to this report