by Michael Lidtke | The Associated Press
California regulators on Thursday gave a robot taxi service the green light to begin charging passengers for driverless rides in San Francisco, a first in a state where dozens of companies ply themselves on increasingly congested roads. Trying to train vehicles to drive.
The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Cruise, a company controlled by automaker General Motors, to launch its driverless ride-hailing service. Regulators issued the permit despite safety concerns that stemmed from Cruise’s inability to pick up and drop passengers in its autonomous taxis, requiring vehicles to double park in traffic lanes.
The ride-hailing service will initially consist of only 30 electric vehicles, limited to carrying passengers from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in less congested parts of San Francisco. gets messed up. It will also allow regulators to assess how the technology works before allowing expansion of the service.
Cruise and another robotic car pioneer, Waymo, are already charging passengers for rides in autonomous vehicles in parts of San Francisco as a back-up to take control if something goes wrong with the technology. There is a human driver.
But now Cruise has been approved to charge for rides in vehicles that will carry no one other than passengers – an ambition that a variety of technology companies and traditional automakers have been pursuing for more than a decade. are. Driverless vehicles have been welcomed to make taxi rides less expensive while reducing traffic accidents and deaths due to careless human drivers.
Cruise’s Chief Operating Officer Gil West hailed Thursday’s vote in a blog post as “a giant leap forward for our mission on Cruise to save lives, help save the planet, and save people time and money.” . He added that the company will gradually start rolling out its ride-hailing.
Waymo, which began as a secret project within Internet powerhouse Google in 2009, has been running a driverless ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area since October 2020, but the density and difficulty of more congested cities, such as San Francisco, has been reduced. It is more difficult to navigate. Challenges before robotic taxis
That’s one reason why Cruise’s newly approved driverless service in San Francisco is being regulated so tightly. In addition to being limited to locations and times where there is less traffic and fewer pedestrians on the roads, Cruise’s driverless service will not be allowed to operate even in heavy rain or fog.
While Cruise’s application for a driverless taxi service in San Francisco received widespread support from proponents, with hopes the technology would become viable in other cities, some transportation experts urged the Public Utilities Commission to proceed with caution.
“Many claims of[autonomous vehicles]have not been demonstrated, and some claims have little or no basis,” Ryan Russo, director of the Department of Transportation in Oakland, California, told the commission last month.
Just getting to this point has taken many companies longer than they did when they started working on autonomous technology.
Uber, the largest ride-hailing service, was hoping to have 75,000 self-driving cars on the road by 2019 and driverless taxi fleets in at least 13 cities by 2022, according to court documents in a high-profile case. was alleged in The company that stole trade secrets from Waymo. Uber sold its autonomous driving division to Aurora in 2020 and still relies almost exclusively on human drivers who have been more difficult to recruit since the pandemic.
And Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised that his electric car company will run a robotic taxi fleet by the end of 2020. That didn’t happen, although Musk is still promising that it will happen eventually.