The dream of a driverless taxi has now become a reality – at least for General Motors and its autonomous vehicle company, Cruise. In a unanimous vote this week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has given Cruise the green light to operate in San Francisco. This makes GM and Cruise the only companies to operate commercial driverless ride-hail service in a major US city.
The keyword here is “major city” as Waymo was the first to offer autonomous vehicles as taxi rides to the public in 2020, albeit, in suburban Chandler, Arizona. Waymo has expanded since, even offering autonomous taxi services in China.
The exact date when the driverless taxis will operate wasn’t disclosed but there will be 30 all-electric Chevrolet Bolt taxis that will roam San Francisco once the operation commences. Cruise said that it will roll out the fared rides gradually, with the aim to provide the smoothest customer experience possible. The company wants to focus on “delivering a magical and safe service for our riders.”
As far as Cruise’s timeline goes, the company’s CEO, Kyle Vogt, first took a driverless ride last year. In February, the first autonomous taxi rides were offered to those who signed up on Cruise. The taxi rides were free and covered 70 percent of the city.
This time, the Cruise rides will be fared to cement the company’s status as a commercial ride-hailing service. Cruise not only considers this as a piece of big news for them but also as a milestone for the autonomous vehicle industry in a shared mission “to improve life in our cities.”
Cruise implores every San Franciscan to sign up on its website to start using and experiencing driverless taxis. The company also encourages users to leave feedback to continuously improve its service.