Argo AI, the Ford and VW-backed autonomous vehicle technology startup, obtained a permit in California that will allow the company to offer free rides to people in its autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state.
The California Public Utilities Commission issued the so-called Drivered AV pilot permit earlier this month, based on the approved application. It was posted on your website On Friday, just over a week after Argo and Ford announced plans to roll out at least 1,000 autonomous vehicles on Lyft’s ride-sharing network in multiple cities over the next five years, starting with Miami and Austin.
The permit, part of the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service pilot program, places Argo in a small and growing group of companies looking to expand beyond traditional AV testing, a sign that the industry, or the Except for some companies, they are preparing for commercial operations. Argo has been testing its autonomous vehicle technology in Ford vehicles around Palo Alto since 2019. Today, the company’s test fleet is about a dozen autonomous test vehicles.
Aurora, AutoX, Cruise, Deeproute, Pony.ai, Voyage, Zoox and Waymo have received permits to participate in the CPUC’s Driverless Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service Pilot program, which requires a human safety operator to be behind the wheel. . Businesses with this permit cannot charge for travel.
Cruise is the only company to have obtained a driverless permit from the CPUC, which allows it to transport passengers in its test vehicles without a human safety operator behind the wheel.
Getting the Drivered permit from the CPUC is just one part of the California commercialization journey. Businesses are required by the state to overcome a number of regulatory hurdles from the CPUC and the California Department of Motor Vehicles, each agency with its own tiered permitting system, before being able to charge for robotaxis rides without a human security operator behind. of the steering wheel.
The DMV regulates and issues permits to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. There are three levels of permits issued by the DMW, starting with one that allows companies to test autonomous vehicles on public roads with a security operator behind the wheel. More than 60 companies have this basic test permit.
The following permit allows for driverless testing, followed by a deployment permit for commercial operations. Driverless test permits, in which a human operator is not behind the wheel, has become the new milestone and a mandatory step for companies wanting to launch a commercial robotaxi or delivery service in the state. AutoX, Baidu, Cruise, Nuro, Pony.ai, Waymo, WeRide, and Zoox have driverless permits with the DMV.
The last step with the DMV, which only Nuro has accomplished, is a deployment permit. This permit allows Nuro to be deployed on a commercial scale. Nuro’s vehicles cannot carry passengers, only cargo, allowing the company to bypass the CPUC permitting process.
Meanwhile, the CPUC authorized two pilot programs for the transport of passengers in autonomous vehicles in May 2018. The driverless autonomous vehicle passenger service pilot program, which is what Argo just got, allows companies to operate a ride-sharing service using autonomous vehicles as long as they follow specific rules. Businesses cannot charge for rides, a human safety driver must be behind the wheel, and certain data must be reported quarterly.
The second CPUC pilot enables driverless passenger service, which Cruise insured in June 2021.
It is important to note that to achieve the holy grail of commercial robotaxis it is necessary for companies to obtain all of these permits from the DMV and the CPUC.