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FULLY AUTONOMOUS FARE PAYING TAXIS ARRIVE: California approves first driverless taxi fleet

Image credit: Cruise

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued the first Phase I Driverless Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Passenger Service Deployment permit in California to Cruise LLC to allow for passenger service in its AVs without a driver present in the vehicle.

With this permit, Cruise may offer passenger service to the general public in its fleet of 30 all-electric AVs without a safety driver present on select streets in San Francisco at maximum speed of 30 mph, from the hours of 10pm to 6am daily when weather conditions do not include heavy rain, heavy fog, heavy smoke, hail, sleet, or snow.

Cruise is authorised to collect fares for these rides but cannot offer shared rides between passengers from different parties at this time. If Cruise intends to change its driverless deployment operations in a way that materially affects the strategies outlined in its Passenger Safety Plan, it must submit an updated Passenger Safety Plan to the CPUC for approval. This includes, but is not limited to, expansions to the hours, geography, roadway types, speed range, or weather conditions of its operations.

Alice Reynolds, CPUC President, said: “This is another exciting step for our autonomous vehicle program.

“I look forward to further public engagement on the safe and equitable deployment of these innovative services as they mature through future reports and workshops.”

Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma, said: “The CPUC’s diligent work on the Autonomous Vehicle Program is creating an innovative path to improved public safety, accessible and equitable transportation, and benefits to the environment.”

Gil West, Cruise Chief Operating Officer, said in a blog: “Today, we received the first-ever Driverless Deployment Permit granted by the California Public Utilities Commission, which allows us to charge a fare for the driverless rides we are providing to members of the public here in San Francisco. This means that Cruise will be the first and only company to operate a commercial, driverless ridehail service in a major U.S. city.

“Now with this approval, we’ll begin rolling out fared rides gradually, expanding in alignment with the smoothest customer experience possible. As always, our focus is on delivering a magical and safe service for our riders.

“Crossing the threshold into commercial operations isn’t just big news for Cruise alone. It is a major milestone for the shared mission of the AV industry to improve life in our cities. And it’s a giant leap for our mission here at Cruise to save lives, help save the planet, and save people time and money.

“We’re grateful to the CPUC for their thoughtful review and approval of our application, and we’ll continue our close coordination with regulators and community stakeholders as we expand our service and improve our product. Collaborating closely with the communities we serve will only become more important as we continue to deploy this transformative technology.”


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