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California Just Opened the Floodgates for Self-Driving Cars

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A self-driving taxi it takes a customer to his destination in San Francisco.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the permits for Waymo and Cruise on Thursday despite pushback from local leaders and many residents in San Francisco.

Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

California regulators voted Thursday to allow self-driving car companies Waymo and Cruise to offer 24/7 paid taxi service in San Francisco, a major win for the industry that could pave the way for more widespread adoption of the technology.

Cars without drivers have become a common sight on San Francisco's winding, hilly and often foggy streets. Thursday's vote stripped most limitations on operating and charging for rides, essentially creating more ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft — just without the drivers.

It's a pivotal moment for the autonomous transportation industry, expanding one of the biggest test cases for a world in which many companies envision not needing drivers at all. For years, companies from Amazon to Google have experimented with self-driving vehicles, something that could prove incredibly disruptive to the labor economy if it ever materializes en masse.

From The Washington Post
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