ready to roll
New self-driving car service from San Francisco officially cruises into Texas
A driverless ridehailing app has made its first expansion out of California — and it's rolled right into Texas.
Founded in San Francisco in 2013, Cruise has completed its first driverless rides in Austin, marking its official launch. The company has not announced any other expansion plans at the moment.
It was a quick turnaround for the company, which announced its intentions in the Capital City in September, calling the feat “going from zero to driverless in about 90 days.” The service is only in three cities so far — based in San Francisco and expanded out to Austin and Phoenix — but given the success of that timeline, it’s reasonable to expect much more as soon as the company announces it.
“Folks, we are entering the golden years of [autonomous vehicle] expansion,” tweeted Crusie CEO Kyle Vogt while announcing the achievement on December 20.
Vogt seems to be right, at least in Austin. News about driverless vehicles keeps popping up, from pioneering autonomous Lyft rides to independent delivery robots for Chick-fil-A and Ikea. A major difference is the patron; while most other autonomous driving news is centered on using the technology for a well-known company providing value in other spaces, Cruise is driving for itself. (It has, however, received investment funds from companies like Honda and Walmart.)
Rider testimony focuses on safety with an aura of giddiness. Even amid the novelty displayed in a video Vogt shared, riders talked about the vehicle’s caution and smoothness. A safety page on the company’s website claims several measures including constant 360-degree vision, a sensitivity to even very light external touch, and communication between fleet vehicles to assist in machine learning. And if all else fails, the company emphasizes “end-to-end redundancy,” meaning that the system can compensate for failures.
Few topics polarize Austinites like opinions on driverless vehicles and this city’s magnetism for testing experiences. Love it or hate it, this is quintessential Austin.
This article originally ran on CultureMap.