Weekly Round-Up: CA Suspends Cruise’s Driverless Permits While Uber Starts Offering Self-Driving Waymo Cars in AZ

In this week’s news, RSG Contributor Paula Lemar covers the latest conflicting headlines about driverless cars.

Specifically, driverless cars take a jump forward and a halt depending on where you live in the U.S. In California, the DMV has stopped driverless permits for Cruise driverless vehicles. But in Phoenix, Uber now offers driverless Waymo cars as options for their riders.

She also details Tesla’s new supercharger deal, M&M’s Halloween surprise, and Uber’s strange yet beautiful new offering.

Let’s dive into each summary and Paula’s take on the news.

California DMV Suspends Cruise’s Driverless Permits


The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced Tuesday that it has suspended GM-owned Cruise’s permits to operate driverless vehicles in the state — effective immediately. The suspension was based on several safety-related issues.

It isn’t yet clear if the move is directly related to an incident earlier this month when a Cruise robotaxi pinned a pedestrian under its tire in San Francisco after another car’s hit-and-run.

Cruise gets driverless permit suspended
Cruise gets driverless permit suspended.

My Take

If you have a driver or not, there’s still the possibility of an accident. Things go wrong. People get hurt.

There are a lot of kinks to work out of the system when it comes to driverless vehicles. Plus, there’s the trust. Will the average person trust getting into a vehicle where there is literally no one behind the wheel?

Check out Jay’s article Will Self-Driving Cars Really Ever Take My Job? 

Uber Begins Offering Rides In Self-Driving Waymo Cars


Customers ordering an Uber in Phoenix can now take their ride in a fully autonomous vehicle, the company announced in a blog post on Thursday.

waymo driverless cars in Arizona
Waymo driverless cars in Arizona.

Uber partnered with the autonomous car company Waymo, owned by Google parent Alphabet, in May. Phoenix is the first city where Uber has publicly rolled out access to Waymo’s cars, partly because it is “the largest fully autonomous service area in the world,” according to a release.

The autonomous Uber rides will be serviced by Waymo vehicles, and rides will be the same price as the traditional car rides Uber offers, an Uber spokesperson told CNBC. The spokesperson added that both Uber and Waymo have received support from local regulators.

My Take

Waymo has been testing the waters in Phoenix for a few years now, so it is unsurprising that Uber is making these rides available to their customers. The biggest downside, as a consumer, is that I would have expected the rides to be cheaper since there is no need to pay for a driver.

Obviously, the vehicle costs will go up for the company because Uber and/or Waymo would be on the line for any cleanings and maintenance, so maybe that is what they are saying will account for having the cost be the same.

But if I had the choice of a driverless vehicle or a vehicle with a human driver and the cost was the exact same, I would likely still choose the human vehicle. There is no incentive for me to choose the driverless vehicle, especially considering I have never been in a driverless car before. Do I trust it? What if something goes wrong? Would I just be stranded in the middle of nowhere in Phoenix?

If you drive in Phoenix, how do you think this will affect you?

Tesla’s First Big Supercharger Deal Is A $100 Million Sale To BP


BP is buying $100 million of Supercharger hardware from Tesla, making it the first company to purchase DC fast-charging equipment from the automaker for use in a third-party charging network.

The sale is going to the oil and gas conglomerate’s EV charging business known as BP Pulse, which plans to invest up to $1 billion in building a nationwide charging network by 2030, including $500 million over the next two to three years.

Tesla’s equipment can charge at up to 250kW and features a Magic Dock connector to connect using the standardized North American Charging Standard (NACS) plug from Tesla or a CCS Combo attachment that supports most other EVs.

The press release doesn’t mention whether the deal covers Tesla’s updated V4 Superchargers, which are only just starting to roll out in the U.S.

My Take

To keep up with the latest EV news, check out our EV Facebook page.

This should be good news for EV drivers across the country. Having a company provide combo attachments that allow virtually all EVs to charge is huge. That has been one downside of Tesla EV charging stations. It doesn’t suit all EVs on the market.

This should allow drivers to transition smoothly when driving across the country, through a state, or even within their own town.

The World’s Strangest—And Most Beautiful—Uber Ride Is Now Being Offered


In some abstract ways, rideshare apps are a bit like architecture. What started as a purely utilitarian need—shelter and transportation, respectively—has grown into much more. Now, it’s art and adventure. It’s immersive experiences and creative expression.

It’s the human pursuit to create beautiful moments simply because it makes life just a bit more enjoyable. Still struggling to see the connection? Consider Uber’s latest offering: a hot-air balloon ride over Turkey’s Cappadocia region.

Just launched, the technology company will now offer one-and-a-half-hour sunrise flights above the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each ride can accommodate up to 20 guests and will cost about $159 (€150).

According to the company, this new offering comes on the heels of impressive growth in the country. Turkey has become one of Uber’s fastest-growing markets, and booked trips have increased by 50% since last year. Of its 30,000 active drivers, most are in Istanbul.

My Take

We’ve covered unique “Uber” rides in the past, so I had to include this one here today. Personally, I’ve always wanted to take a hot air balloon ride, and if I were visiting a foreign country, I might be more inclined to take one from a company that I know, in this case, Uber.

Not knowing the reputation of other hot air balloon ride companies in the area, I’d probably be more inclined to book this one since it has the name Uber attached to it.

Not that Uber is without fault or issues, but familiarity is always something people search for. I imagine this will be quite lucrative for visitors to enjoy.

M&M’s Will Refill Your Candy For Free If You Run Out On Halloween


Halloween is around the corner, and as people decorate their homes and get their candy supplies ready for Trick-or-Treaters, there’s always a chance of treats running out, and if so, M&M’s can step in to lend an assist.

The chocolate company is launching its Halloween Rescue Squad to bring free M&M’s to people whose candy supplies get depleted.

M&M’s teamed up with the instant commerce platform GoPuff for the special promo to deliver candy to whoever requests the free goodies.

Consumers have to visit the Halloween Rescue Squad website after 3 p.m. ET on Oct. 31 while supplies last, and once you place the order, the team will deliver the treats to your door in under an hour.

My Take

Just a fun little PSA to all of our readers who might be handing out candy on Halloween this year. And it ties in with rideshare thanks to the GoPuff linkage.

GoPuff hires drivers to deliver items to their customers, mainly linking to convenience stores and the like. Read our GoPuff Driver Review here. 

This promotion from M&Ms and GoPuff is to help those who might not be able to spend as much on Halloween candy this year, thanks to the rising costs of goods due to inflation.

Of course, it’s only available where GoPuff is currently active. So, plan accordingly.

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