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Cruise first to cross finish line in California for driverless-taxi rollout

Cruise // GIF by Kate Walker

Cruise first to cross finish line in California for driverless-taxi rollout


Future. Autonomous taxis are officially a go in California, with Cruise scoring the first-ever commercial permit in the state. The hope is that A.I.-driven EVs will help reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion. But that dream might be dead on arrival if the roads these vehicles need aren’t also upgraded — a little more than just plugging up some potholes.

No person, no problem
Cruise is getting in control of the autonomous taxi market.

  • According to Insider, the San Francisco-based Cruise secured the first driverless deployment permit in California.
  • That means that it can now charge customers for rides, and anyone will be able to order a Cruise ride through the company’s app.
  • The service will roll out in San Francisco (of course) in what COO Gil West describes as “gradually.”

The public has been testing the vehicle since February… so the fact that Cruise has already scored the permit shows that it’s been well-received by riders (and city officials) so far.

A.I., start your engines
In a recent blog post, West says that the company scoring the commercial license is “a giant leap for our mission here at Cruise to save lives, help save the planet, and save people time and money.” And for competitors, it may be a welcome sign too.

  • Waymo, owned by Google, offers commercial rides in the suburbs of Phoenix and has been testing in downtown San Francisco.
  • Argo AI started commercial operations in Miami and Austin just last month.

With McKinsey reporting that over $100 billion has been invested in autonomous vehicles in the past decade, it’s safe to assume that many stakeholders are floored that someone cleared a path to get this tech on the road, especially in a market as complicated (and congested) as San Francisco.

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