- Autonomous car company Cruise is rolling out driverless taxis in San Francisco.
- It has secured California's first driverless deployment permit.
- Cruise joins an exclusive list of autonomous vehicle companies operating commercially.
Californians will soon be able to hail a driverless taxi for the first time.
Autonomous car company Cruise is on track to operate driverless taxis in San Francisco after winning California's first driverless deployment permit on Thursday.
The permit allows it to charge passengers for the driverless rides, chief operating officer Gil West announced in a blog post.
The public has been able test Cruise's vehicles since February but can now pay to get picked up without anyone behind the wheel.
West said moving into commercial operations was a major milestone for the autonomous vehicle industry: "And it's a giant leap for our mission here at Cruise to save lives, help save the planet, and save people time and money."
The rollout will be gradual, he added.
There has long been a buzz around driverless cars. More than $100 billion has been invested in autonomous vehicle technology since 2010, according to McKinsey.
Such vehicles are fitted with an array of technology including radar sensors, cameras, and AI-driven object recognition to ensure safety.
Autonomous vehicles are expected to help reduce congestion, decrease the number of crashes, and make cars more accessible for those who can't drive.
This could be the year that the potential of driverless cars is realised as Cruise joins an exclusive list of companies operating commercially. In May, competitor Argo AI launched its operations in Miami and Austin.
Waymo, Google's driverless car company, has been offering rides in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, for years. It announced in March that it was expanding to downtown Phoenix and to San Francisco for Waymo employees.
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