Do you remember when you were a kid watching The Jetsons on TV or the Forbidden Planet with your dad at the theatre? Your eyes probably lit with wonder at the thought of gliding through the air in a flying vehicle or cruising down the road on the passenger side of a self-driving car.
That day when your dreams come true may have finally come–if you live in San Francisco, at least.
Driverless cars are now a thing in San Francisco, and hailing one for a ride is now a common thing among residents.
GM’s Cruise Runs a Paid Driverless Taxi Program
Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors has begun charging customers for driverless rides in San Francisco, which marks a significant milestone for the robotaxi industry in the US.
This is the first time that any company has received authorization to operate a commercial driverless taxi service in a major US city. Up until now, driverless taxis have only been authorized to operate in suburban areas–like Waymo has been doing for some time now.
A sense of the moment was not lost on General Motors which could barely hold back their excitement when they announced the milestone in a tweet, declaring, “As of last night, fared rides are now rolling out to our customers in SF. If you’re waiting to take your first driverless ride, we’re inviting more people into our AVs [autonomous vehicles] each week, so sit tight–it’ll be worth it!”
What Can You Expect with Cruise’s Driverless Taxis in San Francisco?
You can expect some restrictions, however. Unlike manned taxis, which are a tried and tested tradition on our roads, unmanned taxis are still a novelty, barely out of the testing stages.
As such, these unmanned taxis will travel no faster than 30 miles per hour, and will only operate between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM when traffic is predictably light.
In addition to that, Cruise’s taxi of the future will be limited only to several specific areas, which according to the permit issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), do not “include any active heavy rail crossings or streets with light rail transit”.
So what would a driverless taxi ride in San Francisco cost?
According to a spokesperson of the company speaking to The Verge, price would depend on the length of the journey and the time. For example, given a 1.3 mile trip, the cost breakdown would be $.90 per mile and $0.40 per minute, plus a $5 base fee and 1.5 percent city tax, to make a total of $8.72.
Who Qualifies for a Chauffeur-less Taxi Ride?
Naturally, with the launching of this paid service has also come its expansion. Rides previously used to be free and restricted to account holders only, but for the paid service, riders can now bring a guest.
You don’t have to miss out on the excitement if you live out of San Francisco, either. Waymo already has a driverless taxi service underway in Phoenix, Arizona that you can order for through an app. Likewise, the autonomous vehicle technology company, Argo AI, has begun testing operations in Miami and Austin.
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