Self-Driving Cars Ready To Hit The Roads In California

Waymo, the robotic car company created by Google, gets the go-ahead in California.

A Waymo car on the streets of Silicon Valley.

There was a huge leap forward for Google’s driverless cars last week when  California’s Department of Motor Vehicles cleared the tech giant’s robotic cars to cruise through the state at speeds of up to 65 mph without a human on hand to take control in emergencies.

To start, the fully autonomous cars will give rides only to employees of Waymo, the Google unit that is dedicated to driverless vehicles. The self-driving cars will only travel on routes in Google’s hometown of Mountain View and four neighboring Silicon Valley cities: Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto. Until now, a backup driver was obliged to be behind the wheel. Read more here.

With Driverless Pilot Program In The Works, California Races To Create New Rules Of The Road


With autonomous-vehicle enterprises fanning out across the nation, California is rushing to deal with the less sexy side of driverless transportation: regulation.

The California Public Utilities Commission is set to vote soon on a self-driving vehicle pilot program, and ahead of that, it’s sorting through what Wired calls “some of the thorniest questions about driverless taxi services”:

What’s the safest way to roll them out? How should you regulate a technology that’s not “finished,” and never will be? What does the public need to know?

So far, it looks like the commission doesn’t want companies involved in the pilot to charge for rides or provide service to or from the airport. Shared rides also would be verboten. And participating vehicles would have to undergo 90 days of road testing before carrying passengers. That’s on top of the data companies would need to provide during the pilot.

As Wired points out, California is leading the way on regulating this new industry. Other states will be taking careful note of the laws that emerge. Read more here.

Microtransit: The Next Big Thing For Los Angeles Transportation?


L.A. Metro has a big challenge on its hands: How can it increase ridership when car-ownership rates are high and gas is relatively cheap? In this battle between public and private transit, the agency thinks it might find a solution somewhere in the middle: microtransit.

Before launching whole hog into microtransit (smaller-scale, on-demand transportation), L.A. Metro has contracted with three companies — RideCo, NoMad Transit and Transdev — to conduct feasibility studies over the next six months.

The idea of microtransit isn’t new, but as L.A. Metro’s Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank told Techwire, starting with a feasibility study is unique. “It’s really getting the private sector to put a lot more skin in the game, earlier in the process, before we leap into the service.”

Read more about the microtransit study here.

California’s transportation funding package must do more for public transit


Authors: Scott Wiener & Ben Allen

California faces a transportation crisis, with gridlock, crushing commutes and significant negative impacts on our environment, economy and quality of life.

We will never solve this problem without massive, transformational investments in public transportation that make it easier for people to get around in a safe, healthy, convenient and efficient way.

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California utilities propose a $1-billion electric vehicle push



Author: Rob Nikolewski

Three of California’s largest utilities, including Southern California Edison, have put together proposals totaling more than $1 billion to try to electrify the state’s transportation sector.

The costs of the requests by Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and SDG&E will be passed on to ratepayers and still need to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. The utilities say the projects will go a long way to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Democrats pave the way toward spending $1 trillion on roads, ports and other projects



Author: Michael Doyle

A lot more money could fuel improvements to California’s highways, airports and rail lines under a 10-year, trillion-dollar infrastructure plan proposed Tuesday by Senate Democrats.

The ambitious but broad-stroke Democratic plan amounts to an opening bid, nudging the White House and congressional Republicans to start down the road toward a major infrastructure bill that California lawmakers would help write.

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Rideshare Companies Don’t Need TrustLine in Order to Protect Consumers



Author: Mike Montgomery

There’s no question that when it comes to ridesharing, especially when children are in the car, safety is paramount. Customers need to trust that their drivers are committed to keeping them safe and that the drivers are thoroughly and properly investigated before they’re allowed behind the wheel. There can be no compromise on public safety.

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Truth About Our Crumbling Infrastructure is the Tweets



Author: Kish Rajan

Sometimes, it takes a tweet to speak the truth: Bay Area residents must recognize our crumbling infrastructure.

Last week, commuters complaining about delays were surprised when Taylor Huckaby, a social media manager for @SFBart, did the politically unthinkable. When faced with hundreds of tweets, he was frank and honest about the financial and structural challenges facing the public transit agency, and the Bay Area’s infrastructure at large.

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