GM unit Cruise to start driverless taxi service in California

A subsidiary of US automotive giant General Motors is to begin a driverless taxi service in California.

Cruise says state authorities on Thursday granted their first-ever permit to operate fully self-driving taxis to the company.

The autonomous vehicle unit of GM is expected to start using about 30 converted compact electric vehicles in San Francisco in a few weeks. Cruise says it will be the first and only driverless ride-hailing service in a major US city.

The autonomous vehicles will initially operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when streets are less congested. Their maximum speed will reportedly be limited to about 48 kilometers per hour.

The Chief Operating Officer of Cruise said in a blog post that the start of commercial operations was a major milestone for the entire autonomous vehicle industry.

Competition to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology is intensifying in the United States. In 2020, Waymo, the self-driving vehicle subsidiary of IT giant Alphabet, introduced a driverless ride-hailing service in Arizona.