Cruise CEO Dan Ammann has written a letter to president Joe Biden urging him to loosen certain safety regulations order to help speed up the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles in the United States.
The letter, which was reviewed by news agency Reuters this week, asks the Biden Administration to allow companies to have more vehicles exempted from certain federal safety standards, which were written with the assumption human drivers would be in control. Cruise believes that allowing companies to apply for more of these vehicles to be exempt from federal safety standards will allow it to deploy more driverless test vehicles and speed up the development of the Cruise Origin robotaxi.
Ammann’s letter pointed out that China does not have such restrictions for certain AV startups in the country and that the U.S. risks losing out to China in the driverless car race if the rules are not amended.
“China’s top down, centrally directed approach imposes no similar restraints on their home grown AV industry,” Ammann wrote, as quoted by Reuters. “We do not seek, require or desire government funding; we seek your help in leveling the playing field.”
Ammann also said the AV industry is estimated “to create and sustain 108,000 jobs over the next five years.” As of February 2020, Cruise had roughly 1,800 employees on its records – up from 1,000 in March of 2019.
Cruise recently applied to receive a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles that would allow it to charge consumers for rides and delivery with its autonomous vehicles. The permit is an important step toward Cruise’s eventual goal of operating a fully driverless ride-hailing/ service akin to Uber or Lyft – but with the added benefit of not having to pay a human driver.
The Cruise Origin, a fully driverless robotaxi that was developed in partnership with Cruise investor and partner Honda, will enter production at the GM Factory Zero plant in Michigan in 2023 and is expected to deploy on public roads in certain U.S. cities shortly after.