Waymo has been testing its self-driving car tech on Phoenix, Arizona-based citizens for quite a while now, but the company (which is a subsidiary of Google) has just been given permission to begin similar tests in select portions of California.
This permission comes in the form of an official permit from the state's Public Utilities Commission. The document lays out a few rules Waymo must abide by to conduct their tests, and they're quite a bit more restrictive than Phoenix's.
For example, Waymo can't charge for any rides, which may make it somewhat difficult for the company to bring their Phoenix-based beta ride-hailing service to California. Additionally, all of Waymo's vehicles must have human drivers for safety purposes (Waymo's ride-hailing service in Phoenix is driver-free). Further, the autonomous car company must remain "adequately covered" by public liability and property damage insurance for the full duration of the permit, which expires on July 2, 2022.
According to The Verge, the final restriction of note (which seems to be self-imposed) will initially limit Waymo's passenger pool to company employees and their "guests"; presumably friends or family.
The company will also only be conducting its operations in a "limited service area" in in the neighborhoods of Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto, and Mountain View.
We will keep you updated if Waymo's plans California-based plans expand, or if the tech company launches another autonomous ride-hailing service.