General Motors’ Cruise self-driving unit has started charging customers for driverless rides around San Francisco, the company announced today.
Cruise started charging for rides on Thursday after receiving the first-ever permit that allowed the company to charge fares to riders in a driverless vehicle. Cruise received the permit on June 2, winning the capability thanks to a unanimous 4-0 vote by the California Public Utilities Commission.
San Francisco is a hotspot for these types of programs, and self-driving test cars are widely popular in the city. GM’s launch of Cruise today means it is the first company to reach this goal and marks a step in the right direction in terms of the company’s intentions to commercialize the service, spreading it to more regions.
Cruise vehicles utilize 40+ sensors to provide the cars with a 360-degree view. Vehicles are also able to map their location by detecting surrounding objects within centimeters for accuracy, the company’s website says.
When Cruise was given the permit earlier this month, PUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen said during the meeting that the panel was “taking a careful, incremental approach” to regulating fully autonomous vehicles. “This resolution marks another important step in that effort,” Rechtschaffen added. “It will allow our staff to continue to gather very important data that will support the development of future phases.”
Cruise said it would expand the service in the future, but is limiting rides to the northwest third of San Francisco.
The Verge noted that fare amounts vary depending on the length of the trip and the time of day. A customer taking a 1.3-mile trip would pay $0.90 per mile and $0.40 per minute. There is also a $5 base fee and 1.5 percent city tax, which would bring this ride to a total of $8.72. The company said an uber ride would cost at least $10.41 for the same trip.
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