The California Public Utilities Commission has approved an application submitted by Cruise that will allow it to begin offering the public rides in its driverless robotaxis.
Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, will now be allowed to give the public rides in its autonomous and driverless robotaxi prototypes in the state of California. The company will not be allowed to charge passengers for the rides, however, and the robotaxi used must be remotely linked to a safety operator. While a total of eight AV companies are allowed to operate driverless vehicles on public roads in California, Cruise is the first company to be accepted into this new pilot program for offering public rides.
“The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today authorized Cruise LLC to participate in California’s first pilot program to provide ‘driverless’ autonomous vehicle (AV) passenger service to the public,” CPUC said in a press release. “Cruise is the first entrant in to the CPUC’s Driverless Pilot program, in which passengers can ride in a test vehicle that operates without a driver in the vehicle.”
Companies that participate in this new pilot program are required to submit quarterly reports to the CPUC about the operation of their vehicles and must also submit a Passenger Safety Plan, which will outline their strategy for protecting passenger safety in driverless operation scenarios.
Cruise uses a fleet of self-driving Chevy Bolt EV hatchbacks to develop its AV software and hardware array. The automaker hopes to eventually parlay the lessons learned with these Chevy Bolt EV prototypes into its Cruise Origin robotaxi, which is set to enter production at the automaker’s Factory Zero plant in Michigan in 2023. Cruise had initially targeted a 2019 launch date for an autonomous ride-hailing service using a fully driverless robotaxi, but it later delayed the rollout indefinitely, citing a need for additional development and more real-world test miles.