Employees of Cruise, the autonomous subsidiary of General Motors, can now board one of the company’s autonomous vehicles operated in San Francisco without a human driver in the front seat. Cruise co-founder, CTO and chairman Kyle Vogt would have been the first to roll, and it has been gushing all over Twitter.
“Around 11pm Monday night, we launched an AV with no one inside for the first time,” Vogt tweeted. “So far we’ve done tests with humans in the driver’s or passenger’s seat, so this was a first. He started wandering around the city, waiting for a transport request. At 11:20 p.m., I used the Cruise app and called my first trip. After a few minutes one of the Cruise AVs (named Sourdough) came up to me and stopped. No one was inside the car. I pressed the “start trip” button and the AV smoothly returned to traffic. “
Vogt also said he requested five more races that night. The rides were to be at night because under the terms of Cruise’s “Driverless Deployment Permit” from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the company can only operate driverless between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Cruise received the permit in early October, which allows the company to deploy its vehicles without anyone on board, as well as charge a fee for delivery services, but especially not for ridesharing services.
Cruise’s first human-less deployment comes about a week after GM CEO Mary Barra said the company was confident Cruise would begin commercial driverless transport and delivery operations by next year. Cruise is still awaiting a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in order to bill for robotaxi services. Until then, only Cruise employees will be walking around Sourdough and other AVs without humans.