Autonomous vehicle venture Cruise, which is majority-owned by General Motors, has received the final approval needed to operate a robotic taxi service in San Francisco. Writes about it CNBC.
The company said this is “the first ever driverless service authorization issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)” and makes the company the first to provide “commercial driverless service in a major U.S. city.”
The company’s vehicles are all-electric and battery-powered, a potential benefit for reducing climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. The company told the CPUC in an April 2021 letter that its goal is to make roads in California safer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Previously, the California Department of Motor Vehicles approved permits to deploy autonomous vehicles for both Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo.
Cruise has already offered overnight trips to San Francisco to the public in its self-driving cars, although it has yet to require passengers to pay for the fare.
You can order an unmanned robot taxi by link.
Police had previously stopped Cruise’s self-driving car in San Francisco, and a video of the incident went viral. The California Department of Transportation said that despite the incident, as of late April, the department had not yet issued a traffic ticket to a self-driving vehicle operator.
Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus of robotics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently rode Cruise’s self-driving taxis and wrote a positive review on his blog about it.
But he clarified that he does not believe in the mass introduction of unmanned vehicles. Brooks wrote, “We still have a long way to go, and mass adoption may not be in the form of human replacement for the last decade or more.”
Cruise’s competitors are also testing self-driving cars in San Francisco, California.
Alphabet’s Waymo is offering free self-driving rides to employees or testers in San Francisco. He made “tens of thousands” of self-driving trips in Arizona.
Another self-driving start-up focused on transporting goods rather than passengers, Nuro, also has a self-driving car license in San Francisco.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk often touts the company’s ambitions of making “robotaxi-ready” cars. Tesla vehicles are fully equipped with the Full Self Driving Beta program, an experimental driver assistance system that requires the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and stay alert on the road at all times.