San Francisco residents might notice that something is missing the next time they hail a taxi — no driver behind the wheel. On June 2, 2022, Cruise, a division of General Motors (GM), was authorized to invoice the journeys in its autonomous cars. Waymo, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been offering a similar service in Chandler, Arizona since October 2020. However, Cruise is the first company allowed to function commercial driverless cars in a major American city.
The first of its kind permit comes with a few restrictions. Cruise vehicles will be confined to carry fewer passengers congested city areas between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Self-driving cars must not exceed a speed of 30 mph. They are also not allowed to operate in heavy rain or fog. The rules aim to mitigate any injury or accident.
Cruise plans to launch the service gradually with a fleet of only 30 cars. The first robotaxis will be amended versions of GM’s Chevrolet Bolt. However, the company is requesting permission to get its bespoke Cruise Origin on public roads. The autonomous electric vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals and can reach highway speeds. The car is spacious interior is equipped with seats that face each other.
Cruises aptitude obtaining the commercial operating license is a big step forward. However, the company still has to convince passengers that its technology is safe. A 2021 survey by the American Automobile Association found that 54% of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.
Whether the program succeeds or not, its initiation is an important Milestone for Cruise. Waymo always strives to ensure the safety of its autonomous vehicles on busy roads. Both Uber and Tesla have announced plans to launch self-driving ride-sharing services. Neither has succeeded so far.
Resources: NPR.com, CBSnews.com, Getcruise.com., Techchrunch.com