Cruise, loaded with another $1.35B from Softbank, opens up driverless ride-hailing to the public – TechCrunch

Cruise, loaded with another .35B from Softbank, opens up driverless ride-hailing to the public – TechCrunch

Cruise is opening up its driverless robotaxi service to the public in San Francisco as the GM subsidiary creeps towards commercialization with a fresh $1.35 billion investment from Softbank Bank Vision Fund.

Softbank had previously committed to investing an additional $1.35 billion, on top of its initial $900 million investment, once Cruise was ready for commercial deployment.

For now, these rides are free and a public waitlist has been set up Tuesday via Cruise’s website. The company said in a blog post Tuesday that members of the public who join the waitlist will not have to sign a non-disclosure agreement before using the service. There were a small group of friends and family who completed rides on Jan 27 and they were under NDA until this morning, a company spokesperson said.

Cruise has nearly all of the permits required to operate and charge for rides in vehicles that operate without a human driver behind the wheel. It has the three permits required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test and deploy drivered and driverless vehicles, including one that allows it to carry the public. It also applied for for a permit with the California Public Utilities Commision to charge for those rides, though the company has not yet received that permit.

GM Cruise San Francisco robotaxi

Image Credits: Screenshot

Over the past several weeks, Cruise employees have posted videos of themselves hailing driverless vehicles that do not have a human safety operator behind the wheel. GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra was the latest to take a ride.

The company has allowed employees to nominate members of the public, and some of them have already taken rides, according to the company. Cruise has dubbed this program the Cruise Rider Community program. People who are nominated by employees or sign up on the waitlist will be incorporated into the pipeline to be among our first public riders, according to the company.

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