Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

GM's Cruise wins first California permit to carry paying riders in driverless cars

Stock Markets Jun 02, 2022 08:46PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Cruise self-driving car, which is owned by General Motors Corp, is seen outside the company's headquarters in San Francisco where it does most of its testing, in California, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Heather Somerville 2/2

By Paresh Dave

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) -General Motors Co's Cruise on Thursday became the first company to secure a permit to charge for self-driving car rides in San Francisco, after it overcame objections by city officials.

Self-driving test cars with human safety drivers have become a constant sight in San Francisco, and completely driverless ones are increasingly common too. Turning them into a fledgling business in a major U.S. city will mark a milestone in the long, delayed journey toward driverless taxi service.

The permit was Cruise's final hurdle in California. Cruise said it would launch paid services within the next couple of weeks using up to 30 driverless Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved Cruise's permit late Thursday in a 4-0 vote.

Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen said during the meeting the panel had been "taking a careful, incremental approach" to regulating autonomous vehicles.

"This resolution marks another important step in that effort," he said. "It will allow our staff to continue to gather very important data that will support the development of future phases."

Cars will be limited to a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km per hour), a geographic area that avoids downtown and the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. They will not be allowed on highways or at times of heavy fog, precipitation or smoke.

Disability and business groups had expressed support, and staff for the state commission had said Cruise's proposal reasonably protects passenger safety.

Citing concerns that unusual behavior by the cars could result in bodily harm, San Francisco fire, police and transit officials wanted state regulators to impose restrictions before allowing Cruise into the ride-hailing business. They recommended requiring further approval to add more cars and a new working group of state and local officials.

The local officials said a confused Cruise AV briefly blocked a San Francisco fire engine in April that was en route to a three-alarm fire, and days earlier a driverless Cruise car stopped by police appeared to drive away before the officer was done. Cruise said its cars made safe decisions.

While rival Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc's Waymo has charged for rides in suburban Phoenix since 2018, Cruise's proposed deployment in its hometown of San Francisco, a more densely populated, hilly and unpredictable area, is considered by tech experts the greater challenge.

Waymo has given employees driverless rides in San Francisco since March, and Cruise has offered free late-night test rides to the public since February.

But there also is a longstanding issue that self-driving cars cannot always correctly predict how humans will react to changing events, including the actions of the car. Cruise has even given the issue a name, the "couples problem," a former employee said.


A decade since California first allowed public testing of self-driving vehicles, smooth rides that follow traffic rules are the norm but surprises persist.

In a public presentation last year, Cruise senior director Brandon Basso described "kinematic uncertainty," a challenge faced by self-driving cars in predicting actions of humans on the road and deciding, for instance, when to yield.

Cruise said its vehicles understand complex social dynamics and hedge against uncertainty by taking safe actions.

Even the San Francisco officials who challenged the permit said that despite "the conspicuous exceptions, the driverless Cruise AV appears to generally operate as a cautious and compliant defensive driver."

Though self-driving cars can adapt to nearby rule-breakers, "human error or behavior such as a road rules violation that diverges from the probable behavior patterns is a factor in a disproportionate number of collisions," Waymo told Reuters in a statement.

Cruise does not reveal what three former employees say are two key safety statistics internally: how often its cars encounter novel situations or experience what it calls "safety-critical incidents," a combination of accidents and near-misses.

Public records seen by Reuters show Cruise with its computers in control suffered 34 accidents involving bodily harm or over $1,000 in damage across nearly 3 million miles of driving during a four-year span ended May 2021.

The documents, which Cruise unredacted in February in response to a request by Reuters, show its attempts to avoid repeat collisions.

For 28 of the cases, Cruise pursued technological fixes, which often were related to improving predictions of what humans will do. It also has relaxed some rules: including a response to a 2019 accident that allows the car to "adjust strict adherence to all marked lanes," so that it could move around parked trucks or slow cyclists.

Waymo in January sought a court order to preserve the confidentiality of its comparable data, calling it trade secrets. The state did not oppose the request, and Waymo's records remain redacted.

Some accidents have led to lawsuits. A bicycle courier and a scooter rider have sued Cruise, and Waymo settled over a 2016 car accident.

Cruise said the car was not self driving during the scooter incident and is fighting the case.

Bicyclist Christopher McCleary, who last month settled his lawsuit, said he has suffered ongoing injuries from crashing into a Cruise car that he said came to an unexpected halt in San Francisco in 2018, and he questions the experimentation of driverless cars in public.

"Unfortunately," he said by email, "I feel like Cruise 'learned' from hitting me and this is actually a sacrifice I had to make to allow Cruise to become 'better' at predicting situations."

GM's Cruise wins first California permit to carry paying riders in driverless cars

Related Articles

Walmart Earnings, Revenue Beat in Q2
Walmart Earnings, Revenue Beat in Q2 By - Aug 16, 2022 - Walmart (NYSE:WMT) reported on Tuesday second quarter earnings that beat analysts' forecasts and revenue that topped expectations. Walmart announced earnings per...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (2)
ZS Beck
ZS Beck Jun 02, 2022 11:29PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
GM can't even make a wheelbarrow that does not break down. I'm already afraid.
Matt Brackley
Matt Brackley Jun 02, 2022 10:57PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
So have they fixed the spontaneous combustion issue?
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email