Cruise launches robotaxi service in Houston

Cruise launches robotaxi service in Houston

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GM’s self-driving car subsidiary Cruise has opened its robotaxi service to users in Houston — an expansion that comes amid growing criticism of the company’s operations in San Francisco, its first launch city.

Cruz said it will operate from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. seven days a week in approximately 11 square miles of Houston, including Downtown, Midtown, East Downtown, Montrose, Hyde Park and River Oaks neighborhoods. company; Cruise has about 400 vehicles spread across Austin, Houston, Phoenix and San Francisco. Although the company doesn’t disclose how many vehicles it has in each city, it typically launches in a new city with a small fleet — about a dozen — and grows from there.

Cruise, which is headquartered in San Francisco, expanded into Texas late last year. The company began testing its self-driving Chevy Bolts in Austin, where it plans to join its purpose-built Origin vehicles, in spring 2023. In May, Cruise began testing its robotaxis — with a human safety driver behind the wheel — in Houston and Dallas. Cruise then expanded to so-called driverless testing, meaning the human safety operator was no longer behind the wheel. The company said in August it began offering driverless rides to cruise employees and “select friends and family.”

Cruz said he has driven nearly 1 million miles in Texas. The announcement Thursday now lets customers order driverless robotaxi through the Cruise app. To boost demand, Cruise is offering flat fares of $5 for all voyages for a limited time.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Cruise is facing opposition from some citizens and city officials who argue that robotaxis are not ready for commercial operation in the wake of several incidents involving the vehicles.

Cruise reduced its robotaxi fleet in San Francisco by 50% after an accident with a fire truck – just days after receiving the final permits it needs to operate commercially 24 hours a day throughout the city. The California Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency that regulates the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles in the state, requested a reduction in operations. The state agency said at the time that it was investigating “recent concerning incidents” involving cruise vehicles in San Francisco. It called on Cruise to reduce its fleet by 50% and cease operating more than 50 driverless vehicles during the day and 150 driverless vehicles at night until the investigation is complete.

Cruise was also involved in an incident in early October in which a woman was trapped beneath his robotaxi after being hit by a human-driven vehicle. A video seen by TechCrunch shows the human-driven vehicle hitting the pedestrian first; The woman flew over the hood and into the other lane, where the Cruze vehicle applied brakes and then ran over her.


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