GM-owned autonomous driving subsidiary Cruise began offering customers free rides in its Chevy Bolt EV-based test vehicles late last year and received a permit to begin charging these passengers for its services this spring. After giving thousands of driverless rides in San Francisco, the company says it has completed over a quarter of a million driverless miles as of August 1st, 2022 and is now setting its sights on unleashing the purpose-built Cruise Origin AV.
In a statement released last week, Cruise said it would use the third and fourth fiscal quarters of the year to work with local regulators in San Francisco and California to increase its hours of operation in the city. The company’s driverless test vehicles are currently geofenced to the northwest part of San Francisco and are only allowed to operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. when there is reduced public traffic. These test vehicles are also restricted to 30 mph.
Additionally, Cruise says it is in discussions with regulators about expanding its fleet of Chevy Bolt EVs in San Francisco and deploying the Cruise Origin in the city. The Origin is a purpose-built AV with a battery-electric Ultium powertrain that is expected to enter production at the automaker’s Factory Zero plant in metro Detroit later this year. The Origin will also be put into service in Dubai in the near future thanks to a partnership between GM and Dubai’s Road and Transit Authority and will eventually arrive in Japan, as well.
Cruise garnered negative media attention in May after one of its vehicles was reported to have blocked a San Francisco Fire Department vehicle that was trying to respond to an emergency and faced even more intense scrutiny after one of its vehicles was involved in a crash in June that sent the occupant of the Cruise AV to the hospital. An anonymous whistleblower also sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission alleging the company’s self-driving robotaxi technology is not yet ready for commercial deployment.