Supporters of the autonomous car movement celebrated on Thursday, while aspiring cabbies in San Francisco faced a setback. Despite safety concerns and some local opposition, two robotaxi companies operating in the city got the green light from California regulators to significantly expand their services.

Cruise and Waymo, two robotaxi companies that operate in San Francisco, got a huge boost on Thursday. The California Public Utilities Commission approved their request to offer their services 24/7, every day of the week. This means they can have as many robotaxis on the road as they want, unlike before when their services were limited.

While there are numerous reports of the taxis getting into trouble on the city’s foggy streets, colliding with other vehicles, blocking traffic by stopping randomly, and creating congestion, the Commission still believes that the self-driving cabs could help improve the safety of the streets.

Some authorities disagree, though. According to Auto News, the city’s Fire Department, Police Department, and Municipal Transportation Agency warned the Commission that self-driving cars “are not ready to scale in San Francisco,” and that allowing Cruise and Waymo “to expand at their own discretion does not serve public safety.”

Opposition campaigners also argued that human drivers can provide services that computer drivers cannot. Tech Crunch quotes Laura Massey, a member of San Francisco’s Paratransit Coordinating Council, who raised some questions about the capabilities of driverless cars. “Can they load and secure mobility aids like wheelchairs and walkers? Can a driverless car spot a blind passenger waiting? Can it call out to that blind passenger that it has arrived to pick them up?” she asked.

The protest group SafeStreetRebel launched a sabotage campaign against the robotaxis last month, urging residents who shared their views to put traffic cones on the hoods of the driverless cars to stop them from moving.

The decision only affects the robotaxi firms’ operations in San Francisco, but it has global implications for the future of automation. The world is still trying to understand the opportunities and challenges of self-driving technology.

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