Autonomous cabs launch in San Francisco – first driving reports

Autonomous cabs launch in San Francisco – first driving reports

Cruise launches its autonomous driving robo-taxi service in San Francisco. How do the first passengers rate the driverless rides?

General Motors autonomous driving subsidiary Cruise LLC is starting driverless cab rides around San Francisco, effective immediately. After a three-month trial period, the robo-taxi service is open to the public.

Cruise launches first driverless cab service in California

Back in June of last year, Cruise was granted a license for driverless cabs in California – the first company ever to do so, and with conditions. Because it is a test program, Cruise must submit detailed quarterly reports on its operations and offer rides free of charge.

The driverless robo-taxi service has been active in San Francisco since yesterday. Anyone who wants to book one of the driverless cabs must register in advance and fill out a short questionnaire. For the time being, only a few seats will be offered before the fleet is gradually expanded.

Sourdough, Disco, and Scampi cruise the city driverless

Each cruise cab has its own name, which can be read at the rear. The vehicles go by “Cheddar,” “Sourdough,” “Matcha” or “Flamenco. The first passengers were impressed by the technology.

The rides without human drivers would feel surreal, but in some cases would be smoother than with human drivers, the first passengers said.

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra also tried the autonomous cabs without safety drivers. She called her first ride in a Cruise cab a career highlight.

Cruise receives new billion-dollar investment

Although Cruise offers driverless cabs in San Francisco for free, the launch of Cheddar, Scampi and Co. also means an immense influx of money. In 2018, the Softbank Vision Fund invested $900 million.

The Investor held out the prospect of a further 1.35 billion US dollars for the start-up as soon as Cruise publicly launches driverless, autonomously driving robo-taxis. Cruise wants to expand with the new money: It wants to hire more employees and open additional locations.

Cruise CEO Dan Ammann only revealed his ambitious plans in October. Cruise cabs are to become better and cheaper than Uber. As soon as the robo-taxi service becomes commercial, Ammann considers a turnover of 50 billion US dollars with profit margins of up to 40 percent to be realistic. The ambitious goal is to be achieved within the next six years.

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Sources: Cruise