The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has admitted Alphabet’s Waymo into its Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service pilot, allowing the company to operate its self-driving cars on California roads—with some notable restrictions.
Waymo can give rides in its self-driving taxis—Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans—but it can’t yet charge a fare and a human driver must sit behind the wheel.
Waymo gave TechCrunch the following statement on what it’ll do in the pilot program:
The CPUC allows us to participate in their pilot program, giving Waymo employees the ability to hail our vehicles and bring guests on rides within our South Bay territory. This is the next step in our path to eventually expand and offer more Californians opportunities to access our self-driving technology, just as we have gradually done with Waymo One in Metro Phoenix.
In Phoenix, Waymo is already piloting an app-driven driverless taxi service for a select number of non-Waymo customers. And no human driver is required behind the wheel.
While Waymo isn’t the first company to be admitted into the CPUC pilot (Zoox became part of it months ago), its CPUC approval does represent an important milestone on Waymo’s road to offering a commercial self-driving taxi service. In an earlier step, Waymo was one of 60 companies to receive permission from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving cars on private testing tracks.