The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday unanimously granted a green signal to Cruise, a company owned by automaker General Motors to launch its driverless taxi service while other companies are still trying to train their cars to steer themselves on congested roads.
The California regulators issued the permit to robotic taxi service despite safety concerns like the inability to pick up and drop off passengers by Cruise’s taxis, requiring the vehicles to double park in traffic lanes.
The robotic taxi service initially will start with just 30 electric cars confined to transporting passengers in less congested areas of the city from 10 pm to 6 am. Those restrictions have been imposed to minimize the chances of damage, injuries or death which may be caused by robotic taxis if something wrong happens. It will also allow regulators to monitor how the driverless car technology will work before issuing permission to other service providers.
Uber hoped to have 75,000 self-driving cars on the road by 2019 and driverless taxis in at least 13 cities by 2022, according to documents filed in court in a high-profile trade secret stealing case from Waymo. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also promised that his electric car company would be running a robotic taxi service by the end of 2020 which didn’t happen, although Musk is still promising it will happen someday.