General Motors has announced that the California DMV has permitted it to operate its self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs. While GM was already operating these self-driving cars, but now the service has received permission to operate without backup drivers. "Today, Cruise received a permit from the California DMV to remove the human backup drivers from our self-driving cars. We're not the first company to receive this permit, but we're going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major U.S. city," said Dan Ammann, the CEO of GM Cruise.
This comes after Alphabet-owned Waymo launched a ride-hailing service based on its fleet of autonomous Chrysler Pacifica in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ammann is quick to point out how a bigger deal this is as San Francisco is one of the most active cities in the world compared to Phoenix. Navigating San Francisco is significantly more challenging for an autonomous system.
"But even without a literal launch into the sky, this is our moonshot. And the chaotic, gritty streets of SF are our launchpad. This is where years of blood, sweat, and tears have been poured out by everyone on the Cruise mission. And it's where over two million miles of city testing will truly hit the road for the first time: an electric car, driving by itself, navigating one of the most difficult driving cities in the world," he said.
Ammann added that the testing of this new service will commence by the end of 2020. He also noted that the fact GM had an advantage over Waymo as its fleet was full of electric vehicles. The Bolt EV that GM has developed doesn't even have a steering wheel for this service. GM is also working with Honda for more driverless and electric cars, especially for ride-hailing services.