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May 15, 2023
Self-driving taxi company Cruise plans to start operations in Houston and Dallas.
The news was confirmed by CEO Kyle Vogt on Twitter, who said: “Supervised driving will start in Houston in a few days, with Dallas to follow soon after.”
The General Motors subsidiary is already asking potential riders to sign up for its autonomous service, highlighting a waiting list on its website where people can register their interest.
By commencing testing in the two Texas cities, Cruise would be active in five major urban centers in the United States.
Its main hub is San Francisco, where it runs a commercialised, fully driverless operation via its fleet of modified Chevrolet Bolts fitted with radar, lidar sensors and cameras.
Earlier this years, Cruise confirmed that it was set to launch a 24/7 service across the city, which initially is available only to staff members but will gradually be rolled out to members of the public.
Late last year, Cruise also moved into Austin, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona, a development hailed by Vogt as extremely significant. “In both Phoenix and Austin, we completed our first paid rides for members of the public,” he said at the time. “Just like in San Francisco, we’ve started with a small service area and will expand gradually. But since we’ve already done this in San Francisco, it will happen much faster in these new cities. We are entering the golden years of autonomous vehicle expansion.”
The next step of that expansion has now arrived. The supervised driving in Houston and Dallas referred to by Vogt means that the AVs initially deployed would be accompanied by safety monitors behind the wheel, with driverless testing set to follow. Only after this is successfully completed is a service likely to be made available to those members of the public who have registered on the website.
This mirrors the incremental approach Cruise followed in San Francisco, although progress could be quicker. Initially, the company plans to test a small number of cars in either city, in contrast to the 240 Bolts operating in San Francisco, as it builds an understanding of the area and market.
The expansion plans explain GM’s confidence in Cruise’s ability to reach a revenue of $1 billion by 2025, despite heavy losses to date, with the imminent arrival of the purpose-built Origin AV self-driving tax, which has started testing in Austin.
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