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Robotaxi startups Waymo and Cruise press on while other AV companies fold

Autonomous vehicle startups Cruise and Waymo are pressing ahead with plans to expand their use of driverless robotaxis to more cities, despite increasing discontent among investors and automakers regarding the timeline for self-driving tech.

The two companies already run driverless cabs in Phoenix, Arizona, and San Francisco, California; however, they have an opportunity to demonstrate that the economics of self-driving technology are viable across numerous locations. 

“We’re going to continue to make sure we don’t constrain the commercialization because we have the lead right now,” General Motors CEO Mary Barra told investors last week. “Those who are writing that it’s not going to work and that it’s decades off haven’t taken a ride in the vehicle — I mean, we’re doing it right now.”

By the end of December, Cruise intends to extend robotaxi service from San Francisco to Phoenix and Austin, Texas.

Additional cities are scheduled for 2023, and according to Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, business revenues should reach $1 billion by 2025.

Waymo has also announced that Los Angeles will be its third market as part of its expansion. The company was given permission last Friday by California to carry passengers in San Francisco without a driver. However, it still requires a separate permit to start collecting fares like it does in Arizona.

Although, only some self-driving tech companies are experiencing growth and expansion. Argo AI, Ford and Volkswagen’s joint venture for driverless vehicles, was shut down last month. Additionally, 20% of the employees at AV delivery firm Nuro were let go. Investors are even pressuring Alphabet, the company that owns Waymo, to cut losses in its self-driving division.

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