GM Cruise's autonomous vehicles to hit the streets for testing without a human backup by the end of the year
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicle, the new permit allows Cruise to test five autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel on specified streets within San Francisco.
General Motors' Cruise will begin testing its autonomous vehicles without a human backup by the end of the year, according to a blog post Thursday by the subsidiary unit's CEO Dan Ammann.
Ammann noted that the company was issued a permit by the California Department of Motor Vehicle, giving the company's self-driving cars the greenlight to hit the streets of San Francisco.
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While he acknowledged that Cruise is not the first to receive such an approval, he argued that the company will be the first to "put it to use on the streets of a major U.S. city."
"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," Ammann added. "It will be a low key, quiet moment. But the echo could be loud."
A Cruise spokesperson told FOX Business that while the company believes it has reached a point where its vehicles can safely operate without humans, there is currently no date set for starting a public ride service. The spokesperson noted such a move would require further government permissions.
Cruise vehichles will go neighborhood-by-neighborhood and will be launched slowly before spreading across the entire city. In addition, the company will hold meetings to answer the public's questions.
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The DMV said in a press release that the new permit allows Cruise to test five autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel on specified streets within San Francisco.
"The vehicles are designed to operate on roads with posted speed limits not exceeding 30 miles per hour, during all times of the day and night, but will not test during heavy fog or heavy rain," the agency added.
Companies that receive the driverless permits have to provide evidence of insurance or a bond equal to $5 million and follow several other rules, such as training remote operators on the technology and meeting federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
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The announcement comes a week after Waymo, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet, announced it would open an autonomous ride-hailing service to the public in the Phoenix area in vehicles without human drivers.
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According to the DMV, Cruise is the fifth company to receive a driverless testing permit in the state. Meanwhile, 60 companies currently have an active permit to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver.