California Lets Aurora Operate Driverless Cars


Self-driving vehicle company Aurora has been approved by California regulators to allow passengers rides in its fleet of driverless vehicles, according to reports.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) granted the company an official authorization, showcased on the official Aurora website.

“This permit lets us give rides powered by the Aurora Driver and shows that we’re committed to being good partners to California and the Commission,” an Aurora spokesperson said.

The company did not specify when it would allow California passengers in its vehicles.

Aurora, with logistical operations currently in Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco, has approximately a dozen self-driving vehicles used for testing on American public roads.

Aurora’s three founders — Sterling Anderson, Drew Bagnell and Chris Urmson — initiated self-driving vehicle programs at Google, Tesla, and Uber respectively.

Aurora raised more than $530 million in February 2019, raising its valuation to more than $2.5 billion. $620 million has been financed to date, with Sequoia Capital, Amazon, and T. Rowe Price Associates contributing.

CPUC’s approval is different than the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ approval to allow testing of self-driving vehicles in the Golden State.

The CPUC permit, granting Aurora official permission to utilize its self-driving vehicles to transport passengers, has a few notable caveats. Companies with CPUC permits cannot charge passengers for any rides, and all of the vehicles must have safety drivers in the vehicles and behind the wheel for safety concerns. Companies also need the California DMV’s approval mentioned earlier in this article.

Aurora’s CPUC permit, expiring in January 2023, requires mandatory reports to the utility commission with data such as total miles traveled and a detailed list of safety features.

Other companies continue to arrive in the expanding self-driving vehicle market.