Cruise’s driverless autonomous cars start giving rides to paying passengers

The era of commercial autonomous robotaxi service is here — Cruise officially became the first company to offer fared rides to the general public in a major city as of late Wednesday. The milestone comes after Cruise received official approval from the California Public Utilities Commission in early June to operate driverless in a commercial capacity.

Initially, Cruise’s driverless autonomous offering will operate only between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and only on designated streets in the city. But the limits are part of a plan by regulators and the company to prove out the safety and efficacy of its system before deploying it in more locations at additional times. The new operating window already extends its total active time by 1.5 hours as compared to the free driverless test pilot service it was offering between June of last year and the debut of this paid service.

It sounds like Cruise is still a ways off from making this offering available far and wide to San Franciscans eager to take a trip with a robot chauffeur, but this is still a major step toward a future where AVs crawl the streets in big cities picking up paying fares.