California Regulators Approve Expansion of Driverless Vehicles by Waymo and GM Cruise
August 12, 2023
Autonomous Vehicles Take The Wheel
As the 2020s unfold, an intriguing vibration is emanating from the world of transportation: the driverless vehicles era is on the rise. A new understanding of mobility’s future is taking shape among the younger generation. Instead of embracing flowers as the counterculture of the 60s did, today’s youthful idealists are finding their passion in the promise of technology. A trip to San Francisco now offers an insight into a bold initiative poised to revolutionize the automotive industry and significantly alter how we commute across the country.
Summertime: Unleashing The Robots On Roads
In a pivotal move, California regulators approved Alphabet’s Waymo (GOOGL, GOOG) and General Motors’ Cruise (GM) to scale their operations both in scope and geographical reach. The two firms collectively manage over 500 autonomous vehicles already on San Francisco’s streets. They are now permitted to offer paid rides without a human safety driver, operating 24/7 across the city. Furthermore, Waymo’s autonomous cars have also been authorized to drive under adverse weather conditions and at maximum speeds of 65 mph, with Cruise vehicles restricted to 35 mph.
The Human Touch: Balancing Technology And Public Safety
As California Public Utilities Commissioner, John Reynolds stated, “While we don’t yet have the data to measure autonomous vehicles (AVs) against the standards set by humans, I firmly believe in this technology’s potential to enhance road safety.” Technologists are in consensus, praising AVs’ ability to eliminate human error and disrupt the status quo of inaccessible transportation. However, there are detractors, including residents and emergency services, expressing concerns over traffic incident complications and job threats to Uber (NYSE:UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) drivers, both headquartered in San Francisco.
Expensive Endeavor: The Price Tag of Innovation
At an estimated cost of $2 billion annually, GM (GM) is striving to turn the vision of self-driving cars into reality, hoping to secure a first-mover advantage that rivals Tesla (TSLA) and Amazon’s (AMZN) Zoox also seek. CEO Mary Barra is driving this strategy as part of her plan to double GM’s revenue by 2030. Despite recording only $102 million in revenue from its Cruise subsidiary compared to $3.3 billion in expenses last year, the firm remains hopeful. Regarding Waymo, Investing Group Leader Stone Fox Capital argued that massive budget cuts were not required after shareholders urged the tech behemoth to curtail its losses in November, a viewpoint supported by SA analyst Albert Lin.