Autonomous vehicle firm Cruise, which is majority-owned by General Motors, was granted the final permit it needed to offer its driverless taxi service to paying customers in San Francisco.
Driverless test cars with human safety drivers have become a perpetual sight in San Francisco, and the entirely driverless ones are increasingly common. Turning them into a new business in a major U.S. city would mark a milestone in the long, delayed journey toward self-driving taxi service.
Cruise announced in a blog post that the authorization was the first-ever Driverless Deployment Permit issued by the California Public Utilities Commission and renders the firm the first to operate a commercial driverless taxi service in a major U.S. city.
The firm’s cars are battery-powered and fully electric, which is also a potential win for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. The firm told CPUC in an April 2021 letter that it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make California roads safer.
Cruise’s permit was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in a 4-0 vote.
Cruise’s self-driving cars will be limited to a maximum speed of 30 mph (48 kmph), a geographic area that avoids downtown, and the hours of 10 pm to 6 am. Cruise will not be allowed on highways or at times of precipitation, smoke, or heavy fog.