Cruise Can Now Operate Driverless Cars With Passengers In California

The GM-backed start up is the first self-driving car company allowed to pick up passengers

Illustration for article titled Cruise Can Now Operate Driverless Cars With Passengers In California
Image: Paul Sancya/AP (AP)

This past Friday, a major step in autonomous cars was reached. Cruise, the self-driving car startup that impressed GM so much they bought a major stake in them, gained approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to operate with passengers on public roads, Motor Authority reports.

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This is a major step. Out of all of the driverless car startups — Waymo, Ouster, Voyage, etc — Cruise is, so far, the only company that has been approved to operate with passengers on public roads. It’s not the first driverless car company to get approval to test on public roads of course. There are over 60 currently in the state testing. But it is the first to be able to have vehicles carry passengers.

Cruise debuted their driverless van/bus thing called the Origin at the beginning of 2020. Back then, it was said to be production and delivery ready. But we haven’t seen or heard anything about it since then. Some may have expected to see Origin being the thing tested on roads, but since the company is backed by GM it’s been using Chevy Bolts.

The approval for them came rather quickly. The company just started testing in San Fransisco in December. Cruise vehicles are currently at Level 4 autonomy, which means that there is still a driver to take control if need be, but that driver can look away or focus on something else (maybe even a nap) for a longer period of time. At this level, the car can take over if the driver fails to and safely stop.

While the milestone of testing with passengers is major, there is an equally major caveat with all this. Cruise can only have passengers ride in the vehicles for free. They can’t charge for rides, yet. Also, the cars are limited on where they can operate and the company has to submit a report before the rides begin detailing how it plans to keep passengers safe.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. Dad. Lover of all things with 4 wheels. Weird interest in buses.

DISCUSSION

meanwhileinpdx
TheManBearPigRoams

What’s unclear to me, is what kind of hardware these Cruise vehicles are running. It seems evident that they are running radar / cameras / LIDAR, but it’s unclear what kind of processing power they have onboard.

It matters because:

  • If the BOM is $200k+, it means ridesharing will need to be the core of their revenue model
  • If the BOM is $100k+, it probably means Tesla is farther from L4 autonomy than they are letting on
  • If the BOM is $>50k, the consumer market will be getting access to this cool stuff on the next few generation of Cadillac