General Motors‘ Cruise subsidiary has successfully completed 50,000 contactless deliveries in the San Francisco area since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold earlier this year – bringing food bank meals to less fortunate individuals and families during the height of the global crisis.
“A rise in food insecurity was one of the first indicators of the breadth and depth of the crisis,” Cruise said in a recent Medium post. “In March, a few short weeks into Shelter in Place, we heard from neighborhood food banks about how they were struggling with unprecedented demand. The SF-Marin Food Bank, which serves the greatest number of participants in the city, was looking to scale from serving hundreds of households to more than 10,000 — virtually overnight.”
To help the local food banks, Cruise teamed up with community outreach non-profit SF New Deal to help deliver food with their fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV-based prototypes. This effort began on April 16th and since then, Cruise employee volunteers have brought countless meals and other groceries to San Francisco’s “most vulnerable and underserved populations. Over 80% of deliveries went to neighborhoods below the San Francisco household poverty line, Cruise also said.
Staying true to COVID-19 safety protocols, Cruise said all the pick-ups and drop-offs it has performed thus far have been contactless. Additionally, the company said it has “established new, comprehensive protocols that follow CDC health guidance to protect the AV Test Operators performing this essential service.”
Some may think the COVID-19 pandemic would be bad news for Cruise – which has an entire business model built around people sharing a vehicle and sitting in a close, confined space. In reality, though, the company says the pandemic “has shown how vital self-driving technology is and how it can be used to support crisis relief.”
“We believe that the future of transportation will be a fleet like the one Cruise is developing — one that is powered by all-electric, self-driving technology that will have a multitude of use cases to connect, support, and strengthen the communities we serve. Our vision for that is more clear than ever,” the company said.
GM and Cruise will continue to deliver meals to San Francisco’s less fortunate citizens in the coming months.