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Waymo self-driving car in San Francisco

Photo: John G. Mabanglo / EPA

Google sister company Waymo is allowed to expand its robotaxi service from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and parts of Los Angeles.

A California regulator on Friday approved commercial trips in a large area south of San Francisco to Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley, about 60 kilometers away.

This means that the robotaxis can now also travel to San Francisco airport and the Google headquarters in Mountain View.

When they will do this is still unclear.

Waymo's self-driving cars have become a common sight on the streets of San Francisco.

The company has around 250 converted Jaguar electric cars in use.

However, the robotaxis are unpopular with many residents because they are known for suddenly stopping and holding up traffic.

For example, emergency services and transport companies complain that robotaxis sometimes stand in the middle of the road and block the path.

A few weeks ago, a Waymo car was set on fire by vandals during Chinese New Year celebrations and was completely burned out.

Waymo's competitor Cruise, General Motors' robotaxi service, has to forego a similar permit for trips in San Francisco for the time being.

California authorities revoked Cruise's license in October.

At that time, the victim of a traffic accident was thrown in front of a cruise vehicle.

The woman got stuck under the robotaxi and was dragged by it for several meters.

General Motors replaced management at Cruise after the accident.

The ambitious growth plans were cut back and the plans for a cruise vehicle without a steering wheel or pedals were put on hold for the time being.