California officials approved on Thursday to establish the world’s first commercial taxi service employing self-driving cars.
The state’s Public Utilities Commission unanimously authorised General Motors and Cruise’s final application to launch the commercial ride-hailing service in San Francisco on Thursday.
Cruise will carry passengers around the city in a fleet of 30 entirely driverless all-electric Chevrolet Bolts – with no safety driver.
“It is a historic resolution,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma, adding that it will benefit the environment, increase safety, and help poor people get around. “We have taken a methodical approach to get here.”
Driving restrictions in San Francisco
GM owns an 80 percent investment in Cruise, a San Francisco-based driverless vehicle business.
“We received the first-ever Driverless Deployment Permit granted by the California Public Utilities Commission, which allows us to charge a fare for the driverless rides we are providing to members of the public here in San Francisco,” Cruise COO Gil West said on his blog. “This means that Cruise will be the first and only company to operate a commercial, driverless ride-hail service in a major U.S. city.”
GM CEO Barra commemorates a “huge milestone”
Cruise began providing free trips to members of the public in its driverless taxi service in San Francisco earlier this year, covering 70% of the city.
Cruise will begin charging fares for journeys in the northwest area of San Francisco in the coming weeks, according to Cruise spokeswoman Hannah Lindow.
“We’ll begin rolling out fared rides gradually, expanding in alignment with the smoothest customer experience possible,” West added.
GM CEO Mary Barra tweeted minutes after the commission accepted the resolution, “What a huge milestone for AV technology that will improve life in our cities – congrats to the entire team!”
There is no steering wheel and no accelerator pedal.
Cruise will gradually and systematically expand across San Francisco and subsequently elsewhere, with a focus on “giving the best customer experience possible,” according to Lindow.
GM has lofty goals for Cruise. GM announced in April that it will spend $2 billion on Cruise operations this year.
Cruise spokesman Aaron Mclear previously told the Free Press in a previous piece, “We are dead set on starting our ride-hailing service in San Francisco, and we have already announced Dubai as our first overseas market. However, no other future markets have been indicated.”
While Cruise has yet to earn a profit, GM anticipates that it will once it is functioning as a self-driving ride-hailing fleet. At GM’s Investor Day in October 2021, then-Cruise CEO Dan Ammann stated that the company’s goal for the ride-hailing industry was to generate $50 billion in revenue over the next eight years.
The electric self-driving vehicle Cruise will eventually operate is known as the Origin, and it was created by GM in collaboration with Honda Motor Co. It is a boxy car with no steering wheel or gas pedal that is meant to transport several passengers as part of a ride-sharing fleet.
It will be manufactured in Factory Zero in Detroit beginning in early 2023. GM currently manufactures the 2022