Thursday, July 7, 2022
News General Motors’ Cruise Gains Permit to Offer Paid Autonomous Rides in California

General Motors’ Cruise Gains Permit to Offer Paid Autonomous Rides in California

Cruise, the autonomous driving company backed by GM, will now be able to charge customers for rides in its driverless cars around San Francisco.

  • Cruise is a subsidiary of GM that uses modified Chevrolet Bolt models to test autonomous driving technologies

  • The company will now be the first to be allowed to charge customers for driverless rides in California

  • The autonomous rides will be limited to an area outside of downtown San Francisco and speeds up to 30 mph (48 km/h)

Cruise, the autonomous driving subsidiary of General Motors, has now received the first permit allowing it to charge customers for rides in one of its 30 driverless Chevrolet Bolts in California.

The company has been working on an autonomous ride-hailing service for a few years now the state’s legislators are happy enough with the current state of the technology to allow the company to move on from free test rides to paid operations.

This is not the first time a company has been allowed to operate paid autonomous shuttle services, since Waymo, Cruise’s most prominent competitor, has been doing so in Phoenix, Arizona since 2018.

It is still an important milestone, however, since many experts believe that the region in which Cruise operates, the San-Francisco area, will be the real test for autonomous driving technologies since it is more densely populated and its terrain is hilly and unpredictable.

In order to limit the risks to passengers and pedestrians, Cruise vehicles will need to comply with a fairly strict set of rules that will prevent them from driving into the city’s downtown and will keep them off the roads between 10 pm and 6 am, as well as anytime where there is heavy fog, smoke or rain. In addition, the shuttles will be limited to 30 mph (48 km/h) and will thus be unable to use highways.

Despite a good safety record, with only 34 accidents causing injuries or more than $1,000 in damages over four years and close to 3 million miles of autonomous driving, Cruise vehicles can still behave in an undesirable way, especially when they encounter a new situation.

Cruise Origin | Photo: Cruise

This has been shown as recently as April when a Cruise shuttle was stopped by the police and then proceeded to drive away before the officer had released it as well as only a few days later when a fire truck responding to a three-alarm blaze was blocked by a Cruise vehicle that got confused.

According to the company, both vehicles acted in the safest way they could in the situation they were faced with.

The company does continue to improve its technology, however, and out of the 34 accidents previously mentioned, 28 of them led directly to modifications in the software destined to avoid a similar incident.

Allowing the company to provide a paid-for ride-hailing service in a major city is the first step towards the mass implantation of such services, which could prove very useful to people who can’t drive or simply to users who need to move about in the city without having to drive themselves.

If everything goes well for Cruise, it will proceed with the introduction of the Origin autonomous shuttle, which will be the first vehicle specially designed for driverless transport to be operated commercially in the United States.

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