Driverless cars are now a thing in San Francisco. Truly driverless cars.
Self-driving car service Cruise, which is owned by General Motors (GM) and backed by Honda and Softbank, has received a permit to test 100% driverless (meaning no backup driver present) vehicles in San Francisco from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). While the company is not the first to receive approval, it will be the first to take advantage of it inside a major US city.
“Before the end of the year, we’ll be sending cars out onto the streets of San Francisco—without gasoline and without anyone at the wheel. Because 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,” Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a blog post.
“It will be a low key, quiet moment. But the echo could be loud,” he added, acknowledging “the drama of this might be hard to appreciate.”
According to Ammann, it would have been easier to test Cruise vehicles in suburbs, but cities are “ground zero for the world’s transportation crisis.”
“This is where accidents, pollution, congestion, and lack of accessibility collide. Often quite literally,” he explained.
Ammann also stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasized how unsafe city streets are, saying “less traffic caused people to drive like idiots. More speeding, drinking, and drugs. Fewer seatbelts. Self-driving cars will save millions of lives.
“City dwellers, in a sad twist on social distancing, are now buying more cars than ever. Traffic won’t just come back, it will suck worse than ever. But self-driving cars, which can be shared safely and efficiently, will reduce congestion dramatically and permanently.”
According to a report by Reuters, other companies that have received a go signal to test truly driverless cars from the DMV include Alphabet’s Waymo, Nuro, Chinese company Auto X, and Amazon’s AMZN.O. Is an autonomous motoring future something you’re down with?