Autonomous vehicle startup Argo AI has secured a permit to start giving free rides to consumers in California.
The company may now offer rides as long as it has human safety operators in control of its vehicles. The company announced the development last week on Twitter, calling it "a great step that enhances the testing we're doing in & around Palo Alto." Argo becomes the ninth company to get a green light from the California Public Utilities Commission to conduct "drivered pilot" programs with passengers aboard. So far, only Cruise, an AV company backed by General Motors, is allowed to conduct driverless tests with passengers. It secured the driverless permit in June.
Argo, which is backed by Ford Motor Co., nabbed the drivered permit days after it announced a partnership with Lyft Inc. to offer driverless ride-hailing services in Miami and Austin, Texas. The companies indicated they plan to deploy approximately 1,000 self-driving vehicles in cities where Argo is conducting tests.
Argo has about one dozen test vehicles in California. It also has AVs in Austin, Detroit, Miami, Pittsburgh and Washington.