GM’s Cruise to go commercial in ‘historic’ decision in California

General Motors and Cruise will be the first companies in the world to operate a commercial taxi service of self-driving cars.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission approved Cruise’s final application to start the ride-sharing business in San Francisco.

Cruise will use a fleet of 30 driverless all-electric Chevrolet Bolts to ferry passengers around parts of the city. These bolts are currently built at the Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township.

“I support the resolution,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma, adding that it will help the environment, improve security and help disadvantaged people get around. “This is a historic resolution. We took a measured path to get to this point.

Cruise is the San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle company in which GM has an 80% stake.

“We received the first-ever driverless deployment permit granted by the California Public Utilities Commission, allowing us to charge a fare for the driverless rides we provide to members of the public here in San Francisco,” Cruise COO said. Gil West in a blog statement. “This means Cruise will be the first and only company to operate a commercial self-drive service in a major US city.”

A methodical deployment

A statement from the California Public Utilities Commission says that with the permit, Cruise can offer passenger service to the general public in its fleet at speeds up to 30 mph, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. “when weather conditions n does not include heavy rain, heavy fog, heavy smoke, hail, sleet or snow.

If Cruise wishes to change its driverless deployment operations in a way that materially affects the strategies outlined in the passenger safety plan it submitted to the commission, it must submit an updated passenger safety plan to the committee for approval. This would include any desire to extend the hours of service, change the geography, types of roads, speed or weather conditions of its operations.

Cruise and any other future self-driving taxi companies should prepare a report and presentation informing stakeholders of how their safety plan strategies were used during pickup and drop-off events, as part of a future CPUC workshop.

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

Earlier this year, Cruise began offering members of the public free rides on its driverless taxi service in San Francisco, which covers 70% of the city.

Now Cruise will begin charging a fare for rides in the coming weeks, operating in the northwest part of San Francisco, Cruise spokeswoman Hannah Lindow said.

Cruise Origin driving down the street.

“We will gradually begin to roll out paid rides, growing in line with the smoothest customer experience possible,” West said. “As always, our goal is to provide a magical and safe service to our passengers.”

A few minutes after the committee approved the resolution, GM CEO Mary Barra tweeted: “What a milestone for AV technology that will improve life in our cities – congratulations to the whole team!”

The cruise fare will now be comparable and competitive with traditional transportation services, Lindow told the Free Press. Based on Uber’s fare estimates, the fare from downtown Detroit to Detroit Metro Airport can range from $24 to $43 depending on vehicle selected, traffic conditions and other factors.

Expansion of cruises

Cruise will slowly and methodically expand in San Francisco and eventually elsewhere, while focusing on “providing the best customer experience possible,” Lindow said.

GM has big ambitions for Cruise. In April, GM announced it would spend $2 billion this year on cruise operations. But Cruise’s Lindow does not confirm when its self-driving taxi service will arrive in Detroit.

In a previous post, Cruise spokesperson Aaron Mclear told the Free Press, “We are focused on launching our transportation product in San Francisco and have announced Dubai as our first international market. But we have not announced any other future markets. “

Although Cruise has yet to turn a profit, GM expects it will once it operates as a fleet of self-driving vehicles. In October 2021, at GM’s Investor Day, then-Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said the rideshare business’s goal was to reach $50 billion in revenue as it ramped up its operations. operations over the next eight years.

The self-driving electric vehicle Cruise will eventually operate is called the Origin, which GM developed through its partnership with Honda Motor Co. It’s a boxy car with no steering wheel or gas pedal designed to carry multiple passengers as part of a carpooling fleet.

After:GM forms alliance with Honda to develop future products in North America

It will be manufactured at Factory Zero in Detroit and Hamtramck starting in early 2023. GM currently manufactures the 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup at Factory Zero and will soon begin building the Hummer SUV and 2024 Chevrolet Silverado pickup there. ‘next year.

Safety instructions

Over a four-year period, Reuters cited public records and reported that cruise vehicles had 34 crashes involving personal injury or more than $1,000 in damage over nearly 3 million miles of driving so far. to May 31.

Cruise Origin picks up passengers in San Francisco.

Some concerns, as the vote took place before the Public Utilities Commission, centered on comments from local officials who said a “confused cruiser plane briefly grounded a San Francisco fire truck in April that was en route to a three-alarm fire,” Reuters said. Additionally, in a popular video on social media, a driverless cruiser car was stopped by police earlier this year and it momentarily drove away from the officer.

Cruise defended his safety track record by testing the vehicles, noting that the cars can navigate complex situations and take safety measures.

“There were over 20 positive comments that supported Cruise’s permits,” Lindow said.

While Cruise has support from some disability and business groups, some San Francisco firefighters, police and transit workers have expressed safety concerns and want state regulators to impose restrictions before allowing self-driving cars to commercial taxis.

But the permit passed Thursday includes stipulations that will require Cruise to work with the city on an ongoing basis and share data to monitor ongoing passenger safety.

In February, GM and Cruise said they had also filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeking approval to build and put the self-driving cars into commercial service. This remains under study.

In a blog post, Cruise’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Social Impact, Rob Grant, wrote, “NHTSA has made it clear in public testimony and regulatory actions that in considering the development of audiovisual standards, they need more real-world information first. Audiovisual operations. We believe this petition can help achieve this outcome: lessons learned from the original, which are designed to improve overall road safety, can help inform the creation of new, updated regulations and standards. »

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Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or jlareau@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan. Learn more about General Engines and subscribe to our automotive newsletter. Become a subscriber.

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