California greenlights state’s first driverless taxi service, second in nation

SAN FRANCISCO — The robotaxis are coming to a San Francisco street corner near you.

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California officials on Thursday greenlighted the launch of a fare-based ride-hailing business, operated by autonomous vehicle venture Cruise and featuring driverless cars, CNBC reported.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a fleet of robot-operated Chevy Bolt EVs will be rolled out in the coming weeks, but the San Francisco-based and General Motors-owned company declined to specify the exact number of robotaxis slated to hit the streets.

In a Thursday blog post, Cruise characterized the authorization as “the first-ever Driverless Deployment Permit granted by the California Public Utilities Commission,” thereby, making the company the first to operate a “commercial, driverless ride-hail service in a major U.S. city.”

Cruise officials told the commission in an April 2021 letter that the company aims to make California roads safer while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In turn, the driverless fleet features fully electric, battery-powered vehicles, CNBC reported.

According to the network, Cruise was already offering nighttime driverless rides to San Franciscans without charging fares.

>> Related: Watch: Driverless vehicle pulls away from traffic stop, perplexes San Francisco police

The first commercial robotaxi business in the nation was launched in 2020 by Alphabet-owned Waymo in Chandler, Arizona, the Times reported.

According to Cruise, an app for the service will be made available to potential customers, and fares will be similar to those currently charged by other ride-hailing companies.