GM-owned autonomous driving startup Cruise has received a permit from the California DMV allowing it to remove human backup drivers from its self-driving cars in San Francisco.
According to Cruise CEO Dan Ammann, “We’re not the first company to receive this permit, but we’re going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major US city. Before the end of the year, we’ll be sending cars out onto the streets of SF [San Francisco] — without gasoline and without anyone at the wheel. Because safely removing the driver is the true benchmark of a self-driving car, and because burning fossil fuels is no way to build the future of transportation.”
The exact areas the cars will operate in are yet to be revealed, as are details such as whether the company will still have operatives in the vehicles as passengers. The DMV permit allows the company to test five cars, on designated roads where the speed limit does not exceed 30mph. Testing is allowed at night, but not during periods of heavy rain or fog.
The choice of San Francisco as the initial proving ground, admits Ammann, is a bold one: “It’s where over two million miles of city testing will truly hit the road for the first time: an electric car, driving by itself, navigating one of the most difficult driving cities in the world. And while it would be easier to do this in the suburbs, where driving is 30–40 times less complex, our cities are ground zero for the world’s transportation crisis. This is where accidents, pollution, congestion and lack of accessibility collide. Often quite literally.”