According to a report on the website of the Spanish newspaper El Pais on February 3, driverless taxis have become a reality in San Francisco. The service wont be limited to employees of Cruise Automation, GMs self-driving car subsidiary. The company has announced that it will open a waiting list for the public to sign up for driverless taxis. In addition, it announced additional investment by SoftBank in the commercial development of the service, which is currently free for now.
Were starting with a small number of users, and well expand our service as more cars become available, Cruise Automation said in a statement. For the past few weeks, Cruise Automation employees have been testing driverless vehicles, including those from General Motors, every night. Take a taxi and travel with it, each robo-taxi has its own unique name, such as Tostada, Disco, Soldau.
CEO Kyle Vogt said Cruise Automation was the first to offer driverless taxis in a major U.S. city, an achievement that has driven investor support. SoftBank has now committed an additional $1.35 billion after investing $900 million through the Vision Fund three years ago. Vogt said the increased investment will allow the company to recruit more employees and expand self-driving technology in San Francisco and other cities.
GMs majority-owned cruise automation company has strong backing from investors including Honda and Microsoft and has no plans to raise capital anytime soon, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said. Currently, the company is valued at $30 billion.
Cruise Automation CEO Dan Amman, who left in December 2021, has said he expects to get a permit from the California Public Service Commission on tolls for self-driving cars earlier this year.
Cruise Automation, which was founded in San Francisco in 2013, was reportedly acquired by General Motors for $1 billion in 2016. The company, an independent subsidiary of General Motors, currently employs more than 2,000 people, including a team of about 900 engineers. Cruise Automation says on its website that it has conducted more than 3 million miles (4.8 million kilometers) of self-driving tests. The company will expand the service as the number of cars available increases.