GM to run robot cars in San Francisco without human backups

GM to run robot cars in San Francisco without human backups

General Motors’ Cruise autonomous vehicle unit says it will pull the human backup drivers from its vehicles in San Francisco by the end of the year. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a statement that the company got a permit Thursday from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to let the cars travel on their own. The move follows last week’s announcement from Waymo that it would open its autonomous ride-hailing service to the public in the Phoenix area. Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., is hoping to expand the service into California, where it already has a permit to run without human backups. Cruise has reached the point where it’s confident that it can safely operate without humans in the cars, spokesman Ray Wert said. There’s no date for starting a ride service, which would require further government permission, he said. Cruise will go neighborhood-by-neighborhood in San Francisco and launch the driverless vehicles slowly before spreading to the entire city, he said. It will hold neighborhood meetings to answer people’s questions, he added. “We understand that this is a trust race as much as it is a technology race,” Wert said. “This is absolutely about making sure that we’re doing this with San Francisco.” The moves by Waymo and Cruise, which are considered among the leaders in autonomous vehicle technology, are important steps in the march toward proliferation of self-driving cars. Progress toward autonomous vehicles slowed markedly after an Uber autonomous test SUV ran down a pedestrian ...
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