General Motors’ Cruise self-driving subsidiary has secured the final permit needed for it to launch a commercial, robotaxi service in San Francisco.
In April this year Cruise was forced to deny that one of its self-driving cars had sought to evade police, after a video showed a Cruise car that had been pulled over for driving without headlights, suddenly driving off from the police officer.
Cruise at the time denied that its vehicle had attempted to evade police and said it had acted “as intended” by parking in a safe location.
Now Cruise has confirmed it will begin offering a commercial taxi service with no drivers in San Francisco.
“Today, we received the first-ever Driverless Deployment Permit granted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which allows us to charge a fare for the driverless rides we are providing to members of the public here in San Francisco,” it said. “This means that Cruise will be the first and only company to operate a commercial, driverless ridehail service in a major US city.”
It said that with this approval, it will begin rolling out fared rides gradually, but that its focus will be on delivering a “magical and safe service for our riders.”
“Crossing the threshold into commercial operations isn’t just big news for Cruise alone,” said the firm. “It is a major milestone for the shared mission of the AV industry to improve life in our cities. And it’s a giant leap for our mission here at Cruise to save lives, help save the planet, and save people time and money. “
Cruise said it was grateful to the CPUC for their thoughtful review and approval of its application.
“Thank you to each and every Cruiser whose focus and dedication is bringing our vision for the future to life – here and now,” Cruise said. “And thank you to every San Franciscan who has taken a ride with us, provided feedback, and helped us on our mission to continuously improve our service.”
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has recently approved autonomous vehicle deployment permits for both Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo.
Cruise had already been already offering night-time rides to the general public in San Francisco in its driverless cars, although it had not yet required passengers to pay a fare.
Cruise is not the only one testing driverless vehicles in San Francisco.
Alphabet’s Waymo has offered free driverless rides to employees or members of a testing program in San Francisco.
Waymo has been working on autonomous driving technology for more than a decade and has been running fully driverless rides in Arizona for more than a year.
There is also another driverless startup, focused on goods transfers rather than passengers, called Nuro, which has a deployment permit to operate driverless cars in San Francisco.