Things continue to move forward for the autonomous car. The dreaded state of California and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) have just lifted the veil on two new programs that will regulate robot taxis for services billed to passengers.

This is a first that had never been discussed before: making passengers on board pay had never happened, as the programs in place today are nothing but large-scale tests. Because of their risk and the ongoing development of technologies, the “guinea pigs” inside cars had never been asked to pay for the service rendered.

The autonomous car regulations commission in the state of California is certainly the best known and most feared of entities across the country. Manufacturers and firms like Tesla or Waymo working on autonomous cars know that they must go through California to find the most abundant resources on the subject, but also meet the strictest supervision that exists.

Towards the democratization of robot taxis?

The CPUC warns that we should not expect to see the arrival of such services in the coming weeks of course. It will take many more months before companies can agree to pass the criteria developed by the commission’s programs. Safety standards are reaching very high levels, the frequency with which the humans on board have had to take control must be excessively low and the number of kilometers of tests must be counted in the tens of millions.

On the other hand, this is a great first for the autonomous car which is completing its regulatory journey towards democratization. Already aiming “Financial compensation for journeys”, as mentioned by the CPUC, the regulation thus addresses financial profitability. A first that players working in the sector will be able to see as a light at the end of the tunnel, after billions of dollars of investment.

60 suitors, confident Waymo

Along with Arizona and Nevada, California is a real haven for self-driving car testing and already 60 contenders are working to reach these two new programs towards a paid driverless transport service. The Verge reports that five companies on the list currently hold an additional right allowing them to test copies of cars that are actually without anyone on board and on public roads.

Waymo, which is precisely capitalizing on the establishment of a robot-taxi service (and not just autonomous driving technology for a manufacturer), spoke about the announcement. “CPUC’s decision comes at a key time as we bring more of our latest technology to San Francisco, and we look forward to putting our Pilot Waymo to work for Californians. “