Cruise has started its first free driverless robotaxi service in Austin, Texas and near Phoenix Arizona as part of its aim to enter two markets before the end of 2022.
Up until now, the company has only operated its ridehail service in San Francisco, where it launched a fully driverless commercial service over the summer.
“In both Phoenix and Austin, we completed our first paid rides for members of the public,” tweeted Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt. “Just like in SF, we’ve started with a small service area and will expand gradually. But since we’ve already done this in SF it will happen much faster in these new cities.”
To start with, members of cruise employee’s friends and family will be able to have access to the ridehail service. Cruise hasn’t provided a date for when it will be open to other members of the general public.
When the service opens in Austin, Cruise will initially offer driverless rides in downtown and central Austin, Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
In Phoenix, the rides will firstly start in Chandler and will be available Monday to Friday from 7pm to 2am.
“In Austin, we went from zero infrastructure (no maps, charging facilities, test vehicles, etc.) to fully functional driverless ride hail service in about 90 days,” Vogt tweeted. “We invest heavily in tools for engineering efficiency at Cruise, so it took just a few weeks to collect data to retrain our [machine learning] models and see performance meet our targets. This process is becoming increasingly automated, in some cases requiring no engineer intervention.”
Although the service has not been perfected yet, there is still a buzz around the idea of autonomous driving. The company will continue to expand into new territory.