Waymo to begin testing driverless cars in Peninsula, South Bay

(KRON) – Driverless cars are coming to the Peninsula.

Following a ban on autonomous vehicles in October, Mountain View-based autonomous vehicle company Waymo will begin testing its robotaxis along the Peninsula in the next few weeks.

After its initial commercial introduction to San Francisco in August 2023, the company now plans to expand its services in the Bay Area all the way south to Sunnyvale.

Photo Courtesy: Waymo
Photo Courtesy: Waymo

The pilot program will only be available to Waymo employees at first, who will be able to order “rider-only” trips anywhere from San Francisco down to San Mateo and Burlingame.

The expansion was spearheaded after the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved its expansion to the peninsula in January.

The approval also comes after a study found Waymo cars reduced the frequency of property damage claims by 76%.

“We’ll continue taking a careful and incremental approach, following our safety framework and working closely with city officials, local communities, and first responders,” Waymo said on X.

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Waymo, owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, began operating robotaxis in Arizona during the pandemic and commercially expanded to San Francisco August 2023.

Waymos might be commonly seen in the city, but its “rider-only” rule limited its use to a certain group of users, leaving hundreds on a waitlist to use the robotaxi.

Limited access was not the only thing stopping commuters from using Waymo. Some worry about the safety risks it poses to the public.

The month after its SF launch, a Waymo car was seen erratically weaving around traffic and pedestrians by Fisherman’s Wharf, according to witnesses.

One witness told KRON4, “It passed me on the wrong side of the road. Then it got confused, then stopped right on the crosswalk.”

In May, a small dog was killed by a Waymo vehicle after it darted in front of the vehicle on Toland Street.

Waymo continues to ignore San Mateo County’s public safety concerns and its very disappointing. We dispute the facts about the safety of its robotaxis and have had no meaningful contact with Waymo to discuss the county’s very serious concerns from our Sheriff’s Office, Public Works and Sustainability departments. I think it’s only a matter of time that we see in Silicon Valley the same dangerous conditions robotaxis have created in San Francisco.

San Mateo Supervisor David Canepa

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