Are you ready for this?
Aside from electric vehicles, there's another technological reality everyone must soon accept: self-driving cars are coming. At present, some new vehicles feature semi-autonomous self-driving technologies, specifically the Autopilot system found in the Tesla Model S. Autopilot is currently facing some serious scrutiny following one specific fatal accident. But there's one major thing about Autopilot not all users seem to realize: it's not full-on self-driving. That tech doesn't quite exist just yet, but it's only a matter of time.
In fact, GM's autonomous-vehicle division, Cruise, has just received clearance from the state of California's Public Utilities Commission to transport passengers in self-driving tests on public highways. However, the Cruise AV, which is based on the Chevy Bolt, will still be required to be operated by an actual human being test operator. In short, the human is there to serve as a backup in case of an emergency.
GM's Cruise division is also not the only company to receive a license for this type of testing. Waymo and Zoox are two others, but GM is still the first so-called legacy automaker to win this approval. "As we move closer to launch we want the opportunity to put top candidates, partners and media into vehicles and this pilot allows us to do that," Cruise said in a statement.
GM also does not want to limit this testing to only the state of California. It currently has a pending petition with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to grant it permission to operate a maximum of 5,000 driverless vehicles. The NHTSA has already given permission to a California-based company called Nuro, Inc. to operate its own self-driving delivery vehicle.
No driver's seat, steering wheel, or brake pedal are necessary because, well, there's no human driver involved. In January, Chevrolet, in partnership with Honda, revealed the Cruise Origin, a fully autonomous EV that's far more than just a box on wheels. It represents a major leap forward in driverless and emissions-free transportation. There's still no word yet as to when it'll go into active service, but it must first undergo rigorous testing.
The permission granted to the Cruise AV to begin transporting passengers around the Sunshine State represents the next stage of GM's autonomous future.