The self-driving car takeover continues.
As we watch all-electric vehicles quickly come into the mainstream, it's important to also pay attention to another expanding technology that'll change driving forever. Fully autonomous vehicles are testing in specially designated cities this very instant, courtesy of Google's Waymo and GM's Cruise subsidiary division. Last month, both tech companies applied for permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to begin offering driverless rides and deliveries around San Francisco.
TechCrunch reports Cruise's application has been approved by the DMV and the California Public Utilities Commission. Cruise turned the Chevrolet Bolt EV into a steering wheel-less autonomous vehicle and very soon a fleet of them will be deployed throughout the Golden State.
The main reason why this is a relevant news story is that Cruise is the first to get this highly sought-after permit. Waymo likely isn't far behind with the approval process and there are several more companies vying for the same status. One key thing about the permit is that it doesn't allow Cruise, or any other company, to charge passengers for rides.
This is strictly a pilot program run by the state that'll help Cruise and its rivals gather critical data about their technologies and consumer habits. The tech companies must submit quarterly reports regarding their operations to state regulators.
They're also required to submit safety plans that detail how passengers are kept safe during driverless operations. San Francisco is expected to be one of the key cities where Cruise will operate because it's densely populated, meaning there's plenty of available revenue. Working in more suburban areas is less profitable. What you won't see happening are Cruise vehicles racing around at neck-breaking speeds. A 30 mph speed limit has been set and the cars will operate only in the late evening and early morning.
This large self-driving rollout will definitely be something to pay attention to since these companies aim to go nationwide at some point.