GM’s Cruise to have robot cars without backup human drivers

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Cruise Robot Car

US-based General Motor’s Cruise Autonomous Vehicle Unit says it will pull the human backup drivers from vehicles in San Francisco by the end of this year.

Dan Ammann CEO of Cruise said that the company got a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to let the cars travel on their own.

The step follows Waymo’s, an American autonomous driving technology development company announced last week that it will open its autonomous ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area. They are planning to have vehicles without drivers for the service of the public.

Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Incorporation, plans to eventually extend the service to California, where it already has a license to run without human backups.

According to the reports, Cruise has achieved the point where it is assured that the car can operate safely without humans. As further government approval is needed, the launching date of ride services is not yet revealed.

Before spreading to the entire area, Cruise will go to neighbourhood places in San Francisco and launch the driverless vehicles slowly.

The operations of Waymo and Cruise, which are considered among the autonomous vehicle technology giants, are the significant move towards self-driving car proliferation.

Steven Shladover, a University of California, Berkeley research engineer who has researched autonomous driving for 40 years, said the moves are the next logical steps in a gradual progression by both companies.

“I don’t see them as revolutionary steps, but they’re part of this step-by-step progress towards getting the technology to be able to work under a wider range of conditions,” he said.

Both Cruise and Waymo program their vehicles to drive more conservatively than humans, however, Landover said, they do need to advance safely. He further noted that before venturing into more complicated traffic conditions, Cruise will first target simpler areas in San Francisco.