Self-driving car startup Zoox has been granted approval by the state of California to begin operating an autonomous ride service for the public – becoming the first company to be given the nod by the state regulators.
The California Public Utilities Commission green lit the startup’s addition to a state pilot programme, which will see self-driving cars used as transport for civilians.
“This is a really, really significant milestone as we head towards commercial launch, which we have stated is toward the end of 2020,” Bert Kaufman, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Zoox, told Reuters.
Zoox is one of 62 companies – including the likes of Alphabet’s Waymo, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Honda, Tesla, BMW, Intel, and Apple – with a permit to test self-driving vehicles in California.
These companies are only allowed to test autonomous cars with a driver present, and this will continue to be the case when the vehicles are opened up to the public. In addition, Zoox – and whichever companies get added to the programme in the future – is not allowed to charge people for riding in its cars during its passenger tests.