GM’s Cruise has started charging passengers for fully driverless rides in San Francisco. The company secured a driverless deployment permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) earlier this month, making it the first in the industry to do so. That allows Cruise to charge for rides with no safety driver behind the wheel, though its vehicles are limited to select streets in the city. In addition, the company’s paid passenger service can only operate from 10PM to 6AM, and its cars can only drive at a max speed of 30 mph.
Another limitation is that its driverless vehicles are not allowed on highways and cannot operate during times of heavy fog and rain. Still, it’s a major milestone, not just for Cruise, but for the nascent robotaxi industry as a whole. Cruise’s permit allows it to operate a commercial driverless ride — hailing service with a fleet of up to 30 vehicles. It previously said that it will roll out fared rides gradually, and it reiterated that plan in its latest announcement, where it noted that it’s “inviting more people” into its driverless vehicles every week. The goal is to eventually be able to offer fared rides all day across the entire city.
Cruise received permission to offer the public robotaxi rides last year, but it could only do so for free. The company, along with Waymo, was finally allowed to charge passengers this March, as long as they were rides with safety drivers behind the wheel. While Waymo can’t charge for fully autonomous rides yet, it’s still the only other company that’s been granted a drivered deployment permit, based on CPUC’s list.
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