Robotaxi service Cruise is expanding availability of driverless rides to Houston and Dallas in the immediate future, according to a recent tweet from the GM subsidiary.
Cruise says “supervised driving” of its robotaxis will launch in Houston first out of the two Texas cities, with Dallas following soon thereafter.
The Cruise website also offers a page where people can join a waitlist to go on a driverless ride in Houston, Dallas, or other urban areas where the service is currently offered. Potential riders enter their name, email, zip code, and the general time of day they would be most interested in using a Cruise robotaxi.
After initial testing of the autonomous robotaxi service in San Francisco, California, Cruise began planning expansion to new cities across the U.S. during 2023. Various locations in the southwest, including Phoenix, Arizona and Austin, Texas were initially earmarked for the next stage of expansion.
Cruise robotaxis appeared in Austin and Phoenix by late December 2022. The company released a short video of customers experiencing driverless transport in the two new locations.
The service’s autonomous vehicles have racked up more than 1.5 million miles of driverless operation as of May 2023. It now has at least 240 robotaxi units on the streets simultaneously, which are carrying out in excess of 1,000 driverless trips daily. Automated Cruise taxi rides are currently available to riders who are 13 years or older.
The aggressive expansion strategy will lead to Cruise earning $1 billion in annual revenue by 2025, according to CEO Kyle Vogt.
The robotaxi fleet operated by Cruise currently consists of modified Chevy Bolt EV units. GM’s driverless Cruise Origin robotaxi, a ground-up autonomous design, will eventually replace Bolt taxis once the company secures NHTSA approval for mass production and deployment of the vehicle.
The Cruise Origin is a rectangular vehicle featuring two rows of passenger seats facing each other and sliding side doors to enable boarding and exiting. The final version will be fully automated and will not include a steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedals, or any other human-usable driving controls.
Testing of the Cruise Origin design is being carried out with several special units built with centrally-located driver controls for human operation. Appearing first in San Francisco, the human-driven Origin test vehicles recently began road testing in Austin, Texas starting in early April 2023.
Cruise is also working on expansion of its autonomous vehicles into delivery services. Autonomous vehicle units equipped with a locker to securely carry groceries or other delivery payloads have been reported. Major retail chain Walmart is investing in the technology, with eight stores currently participating in testing.