CEO Kyle Vogt announced the expansion via Twitter, noting the self-driving experience is improving at an astonishing rate.
Cruise, a self-driving car company backed by General Motors, has officially expanded its robotaxi service to additional locations in the USA.
Company CEO Kyle Vogt shared the news via Twitter, just three months after the company said it hopes to deploy autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EVs in Phoenix, Arizona, and Austin, Texas. "We promised we'd go driverless in [three] cities by the end of this year, and WE DID IT! Cruise is now live in [San Fransisco], Austin, and Phoenix," wrote Vogt.
The CEO added that the Phoenix and Austin-based robotaxi service will only be available in a "small service area" but will expand to cater to more parts of the respective cities. "But since we've already done this in SF it will happen much faster in these new cities," he added.
Getting the service up and running happened rather quickly, says Vogt. "In Austin, we went from zero infrastructure (no maps, charging facilities, test vehicles, etc.) to [a] fully functional driverless ride-hail service in about 90 days."
The message was accompanied by a video detailing the first-time experience of Cruise users in these newly-added cities.
Unsurprisingly, the passengers are amazed at the driverless taxi service, with one user referring to it as "history in the making." Another states that it's safer than a human driver. While this is a significant milestone for Cruise, there have been several hiccups along the way.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a safety probe into the tech company, with the agency noting the Cruise-owned Bolts "may engage in appropriately hard braking or become immobilized."
Prior to this, a Cruise robotaxi made headlines earlier this year when it was involved in an accident that injured those involved. This followed another bizarre incident, where a fleet of Cruise vehicles came to a standstill on a busy San Francisco street, causing chaos and snarl-ups for hours.
Hopefully, these issues have been addressed, as safety is paramount - especially as the service becomes available in additional cities. Vogt notes that the robotaxis are gradually improving. "Overall, the rate of improvement we've seen in AV performance over the last year is astonishing. A ride today feels totally different than one just a couple of months ago. Imagine where we'll be this time next year!"
Despite hesitancy behind self-driving vehicles, the service seems to be a hit with tech lovers and early adopters. Even GM CEO Mary Barra was impressed when she took her first ride.