Cruise, the self-driving technology company backed by General Motors and Honda, on Thursday announced it received a permit from the California DMV to test its prototypes on the state’s roads without a safety driver behind the wheel.
It marks a major step in Cruise’s aim to develop a safe and robust self-driving system, though the company isn’t the first with the permit. Ahead of it are Google-backed Waymo, Amazon-backed Zoox, China’s AutoX, and Nuro, a self-driving startup founded by ex-Google engineers.
Nevertheless, Cruise is destined to be the first company to put its fully driverless cars on the streets of a major U.S. city, in this case San Francisco whose streets can be chaotic and often packed with traffic. Cruise said its first driverless cars will take to the city’s streets by the end of 2020. In case you’re concerned, Cruise said it’s already safely completed over two million miles in testing.
Unlike some of its rivals, Cruise is sticking with battery-electric cars exclusively for testing and for a planned driverless taxi service. For testing purposes, Cruise is currently using Chevrolet Bolt EVs fitted with the company’s own self-driving technology.
Cruise has also unveiled a self-driving vehicle of its own design. It’s called the Cruise Origin, and it’s a self-driving shuttle based on GM’s BEV3 modular EV platform. At its reveal in January, Cruise said the Origin will enter a limited service sometime in 2021.
Cruise is yet to allow anyone from outside the company to ride in one of its self-driving cars. The company has also previously made bold claims only to miss them. In 2018, it said it would have a commercial service ready in 2019. It even rolled out a car without a steering wheel or pedals.