Cruise Origin driverless shuttle
Cruise, a majority-owned subsidiary of General Motors, may soon be providing passenger rides in driverless test vehicles in California.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced on Friday that Cruise has been granted permission to provide passengers with rides in prototype robotaxis.
In a public statement, the CPUC said Cruise is the first autonomous vehicle developer to obtain such a permit. To allow passengers to ride in their test vehicles without a driver, Cruise may not charge a fee for the rides and must submit quarterly reports on its autonomous vehicles, as well as a passenger safety plan, according to the CPUC.
Cruise anticipates that production of its Origin driverless shuttles will begin in early 2023. Hundreds of Chevrolet Bolt EVs outfitted with Cruise’s driverless technology are currently part of the company’s test fleet.
Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car unit, and Cruise are both seeking permits needed to start charging for rides and deliveries using their autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, according to a Reuters report in May.
Alongside Cruise, seven other companies, including Waymo, Amazon-owned Zoox and Aurora, have permits from the CPUC for driverless vehicle testing on California roads, but they aren’t yet permitted to taxi members of the public around without a driver on board.
To test and eventually operate their driverless cars commercially in the state, autonomous vehicle developers must obtain separate permits from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the CPUC.
Despite the fact that commercialization is taking longer than expected due to technical, safety, and regulatory challenges, the world’s largest technology and auto companies are continuing to invest heavily in self-driving vehicles. Cruise raised billions of dollars earlier this year from strategic investors such as Microsoft, Honda, and Walmart.