Cruise, General Motors’ autonomous vehicle subsidiary, has announced that it is now running a fleet of fully driverless cars on the streets of San Francisco. The move is a major step forward in offering a fully autonomous taxi service to compete with the likes of services like Lyft and Uber.
As outlined in a recent report from the Associated Press, GM Cruise is now operating a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles in California. Unlike in previous testing, the vehicles do not have a human pilot behind the wheel ready to take control if needed. Although the vehicles do have a Cruise employee in the front passenger seat, the employees does not have access to the vehicle controls, and eventually, it’s expected that the employee won’t sit in the front of the vehicle at all.
As GM Authority covered back in October, GM Cruise received approval to operate fully autonomous vehicles in California via a permit issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The company has tested its autonomous vehicle technology in California for years, but will now run a fleet of five fully autonomous vehicles on the streets of San Francisco.
“You’re seeing fully driverless technology out of the (research and development) phase and into the beginning of the journey to being a real commercial product,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann.
GM purchased Cruise in 2016. The company has developed its autonomous technology in the real-world over the course of two million self-driven miles, as well as in computer simulations. Earlier this year, General Motors unveiled Cruise Origin, its first-ever fully autonomous vehicle approved for production.
Now, the race is on to develop commercially viable self-driving technology, with competitors like Google’s Waymo and Amazon’s Zoox also in the hunt.
In addition to launching a new taxi service, self-driving technology has also proven useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, with GM Cruise assisting in more than 50,000 contactless deliveries to bring meals to less fortunate individuals and families in San Francisco.