While GM’s autonomous vehicle (AV) subsidiary Cruise has heretofore limited its robotaxi testing to San Francisco, it now wants permission to test the self-driving vehicles everywhere in the state of California.
Cruise applied for state-wide testing to the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Monday, March 20th, according to the Associated Press (AP). It has no current specific plans for new testing locations, but intends to lay the groundwork for eventual expansion.
The test permit requests that the California DMV approve AV testing at speeds up to 55 miles per hour, potentially enough for testing on two-lane undivided roadways as well as city testing. California sets the speed limit on multilane highways at 65 mph. Testing will be limited to employee passengers outside San Francisco.
Drew Pusateri, a Cruise spokesman, stated “we hope to continue working with the California DMV to safely and responsibly test our services in other cities in the future.” He also confirmed there will not be “any immediate change to our testing or operations.”
Cruise is moving forward with several important initiatives in 2023, including attempts to get its Cruise Origin self-driving robotaxi into production. However, the company must first obtain NHTSA approval for both the manufacture and deployment of a fully driverless vehicle with no human-usable steering wheel, brakes, or accelerator.
The NHTSA opened a safety probe into Cruise back in December over allegations of Cruise AVs blocking traffic in San Francisco by stopping in the middle of the road, and other problems. Cruise, in return, has pointed out its vehicles have clocked over one million autonomous miles without causing a single known injury.
GM CEO Mary Barra is taking an active hand in securing wider approval for AVs, meeting recently with senators who are members of the Senate Commerce Committee. The meeting aimed at restarting lawmakers’ consideration of new autonomous vehicle laws, which have been stalled in legislative limbo for six years.
Cruise is moving forward with its plans as vigorously as possible while looking for ways to reduce costs. Several planned cost-cutting measures include finding cheaper suppliers for Cruise Origin parts and simplifying the Origin’s design to use less components in the first place.
The robotaxi service wants to use its AVs not only for transporting people, but also for deliveries, including bringing groceries to homes. Its executives remain confident it can achieve its goal of $50 billion in yearly revenue by 2030.