top of page

Waymo's Expansion Delayed Due to Safety Concerns

Waymo has faced a setback in its plans to expand its driverless service down the Peninsula. The Mountain View-based firm encountered regulatory delays as it sought approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to extend its services to the Sunnyvale city line. This delay comes amid growing concerns over safety incidents involving autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, particularly those operated by Waymo and its competitor Cruise.

While Waymo's proposal garnered support from various business organizations and advocacy groups, including chambers of commerce and nonprofits, opposition stemmed from entities like San Mateo County and South San Francisco, citing safety issues and demanding a more thorough regulatory review.

The CPUC suspended Waymo's Peninsula application for 120 days to allow for further staff review, emphasizing public safety concerns raised by local officials and communities. Supervisor David Canepa highlighted the need for engagement with Waymo to address the real safety risks faced by emergency responders and the public.

Waymo's service area in San Francisco (solid blue) and planned expansion to the Peninsula (transparent blue) – credits: Waymo

Waymo expressed understanding of the suspension, citing standard practice for applications not decided within 30 days. The company highlighted its compliance with regulations, noting the approval of its vehicles for various road conditions, excluding snow, by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The regulatory challenges reflect broader issues in regulating autonomous vehicle services, with state authorities holding jurisdiction over these matters, leaving local governments with limited enforcement capabilities. Recent incidents, including a collision involving a cyclist and previous accidents, underscore the urgency for comprehensive safety measures.

In response to safety concerns, Waymo has initiated training sessions for emergency responders and law enforcement agencies in the region, aiming to enhance collaboration and preparedness for handling incidents involving autonomous vehicles.

The delay in Waymo's expansion underscores the intricate balance between technological innovation and public safety, prompting calls for more robust regulatory frameworks and local involvement in overseeing autonomous vehicle operations. Legislative efforts, such as Senate Bill 915 introduced by Senator Dave Cortese, seek to empower local governments with permitting authority and regulatory discretion, reflecting ongoing efforts to address the evolving challenges posed by autonomous transportation.

0 views0 comments


This project is supported by EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. EIT Urban Mobility acts to accelerate positive change on mobility to make urban spaces more liveable.

Learn more:

Rue d'Arlon 22
1050 Brussels
+32 2 513 13 36
© 2024 Espaces-Mobilités
bottom of page