California approves pilot program for driverless journeys
The California Public Utilities Commission announced Friday that Cruise, a self-driving car service out of San Francisco, has been cleared to participate in the state’s first pilot program to provide driverless transportation services to the public.
The company is not authorized to charge passengers for journeys.
Eight companies have licenses to test driverless vehicles in California, but Cruise is the only company licensed to drive passengers without a safety driver on board. However, vehicles must always have a link with a remote security operator.
So far, Cruise says its self-driving cars have recorded more than 2 million miles driven in California. The company also has more than 300 all-electric autonomous vehicles operating in San Francisco and Phoenix.
Cruise was acquired by General Motors in 2016 and has benefited from significant investments from Softbank, Honda, T. Rowe Price, Microsoft and Walmart.
Many vehicles on the road today already implement some level of automation technology, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration breaks down into different levels.
Despite the rise in automated vehicle technology, an American Automobile Association survey in January found that most drivers are reluctant to get into a self-driving car. the study suggests that only 14% of drivers trust a car to drive all the driving, 54% are too afraid to try it and the remaining 32% are unsure.