General Motors driverless vehicle subsidiary Cruise has been given a permit to test its vehicles on the streets of San Francisco.
Its CEO Dan Ammann says the company will be allowed to remove the human backup drivers from its self-driving cars, and while they’re not the first to get such a permit, they’re going to be the first to put it into use on the streets of a major American city.
“Before the end of the year,” he’s blogged, “we’ll be sending cars out onto the streets of San Francisco — without gasoline and without anyone at the wheel. Because safely removing the driver is the true benchmark of a self-driving car, and because burning fossil fuels is no way to build the future of transportation.
“It will be a low key, quiet moment. But the echo could be loud.”
He adds that all anyone will see is a car, “silently driving by itself through the city. Not speeding. Not crashing. Just quietly cruising.
“But even without a literal launch into the sky, this is our moonshot,” he continues. “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 completes his blog post by saying to people in the City By the Bay, “If you happen to see any of our cars out on the road, go ahead and wave. There might not be anyone inside, but they see you too, and appreciate your support as they drive change for us all.”