Cruise, which is owned by General Motors Co and counts Honda Motor Company Limited and SoftBank Group as investors, is testing 180 self-driving cars in San Francisco with a safety driver behind the wheel.
The race for driverless autonomous vehicles is heating up and on Thursday, Cruise became the first person from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to get a permit to test cars on the streets of San Francisco without anyone. Cruise, which is owned by General Motors Co and counts Honda Motor Company Limited and SoftBank Group as investors, is testing 180 self-driving cars in San Francisco with a safety driver behind the wheel, And the permit allows five of those cars to move around empty. But don’t expect a robo-taxi yet.
“So this is a step or two of what we would initially do with this permit,” said Dan Amman, Chief Executive Officer of Cruise. “It’s not far down the road,” he said, but declined to share the timeline.
In a blog post, he said, “We are not the first company to get this permit, but we are going to be the first to use it on the streets of a major city in America.”
This will be an important step to charge cruise customers. A separate permit is required for any company to start making money in California, state officials said.
As part of SoftBank’s investment, SoftBank is obliged to purchase additional Cruise shares for $ 1.35 billion when Cruise prepares for commercial deployment.
“This is a good incentive,” Amman said, adding Cruz added more than $ 7 billion in economic growth. According to the GM filing, Cruise reported a loss of $ 1 billion in 2019.
Cruise is the fifth company in California to receive a driverless permit. Alphabet’s Vaymo was the first in late 2018 to receive it for nearly three dozen test vehicles, with speeds up to 65 mph. This year Softbank-backed Neuro, which has no steering wheel or paddle of the vehicle, was also approved and has made medical supplies for temporary COVID-19 hospitals.
Chinese startups AutoX and Amazon.com Inc’s Zoox also got their permits in recent months. The last four permits are for cities in Silicon Valley that are easy to navigate. Under its permit, cruise cars can go anywhere on San Francisco roads at a maximum speed of 30 mph, and can drive both day and night.
In Arizona, which is more open to testing for self-driving cars without drivers, Waymo has already been selecting a group of customers for the empty vans that pull them around and have them since the summer of 2019. Let’s shuttle. That program – temporarily halted for the epidemic – resumed in October and is expected to open to the wider public soon.
Amman said that to prepare for its Robotaxi future, Cruise is working to improve its Ride Healing app, which employees use for free across the city. In the future, Cruise Origin will likely include an electric vehicle with no steering wheel or paddle unveiled in January, but will require approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).