SAN FRANCISCO—General Motors’ Cruise autonomous vehicle unit announced on Thursday, October 15, that it will pull the human backup drivers from its self-driving cars in San Francisco by the end of the year.
Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a statement that California’s Department of Motor Vehicles gave the permit to the company on October 15, allowing its self-driving cars to travel on the streets without gasoline and without humans in the cars.
“Burning fossil fuels is no way to build the future of transportation,” said Ammann. “All anyone will see is a car, silently driving by itself through the city. Not speeding. Not crashing. Just quietly cruising.”
Cruise’s spokesman Ray Wert said that the company has no exact date for starting a ride service as it is still waiting for further government permission.
Cruise plans to “go neighborhood-by-neighborhood in San Francisco and launch the driverless vehicles slowly before spreading to the entire city,” said Wert, adding that neighborhood meetings will be held to answer people’s questions.
The move from Cruise follows last week’s announcement from Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. Waymo said that it will allow the general public to hitch a ride in its driverless autonomous vehicles in Phoenix and hope to eventually expand the service to California.
“Personal, gasoline-powered vehicles spew nearly three times their own weight in carbon dioxide every year. Cruise cars spew none,” said Ammann. “The impact on our cities, our world, and our climate will be real and sooner than you might think.”