Cruise now offers paid robotaxi rides in Houston

Cruise has been testing its self-driving vehicles in Houston since May, and it started giving employees, along with select friends and family members, fully driverless rides in August. Now, it’s offering the public the chance to catch a ride to their destinations on robotaxis with no drivers behind the wheel. The company is now onboarding Houston residents who signed up for its waitlist, and it’s also encouraging those who’ve yet to do so to visit its website and send in a request for access. Those who do get in early will be able to hail a driverless ride through its app for a flat fare of $5 for a limited time. 

Initially, Cruise will have the authority to operate seven days a week from 9PM to 6AM only in Downtown, Midtown, East Downtown, Montrose, Hyde Park and River Oaks neighborhoods. The company typically begins by deploying a small fleet of vehicles to cover a limited number of locations in a city, but it eventually expands its vehicles’ availability. 

It will probably take some time before the company can operate around the clock in Houston, though. In San Francisco, for instance, Cruise was only given permission to offer paid daytime rides in August, months after staff members started testing its 24/7 service. It’s worth noting that while Cruise was able to secure permission for the expansion, the company still faces pushback from critics raising concerns about the safety of autonomous vehicle tech. One of the commissioners from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) even voted against allowing the company to operate during daytime hours, arguing that the agency didn’t have enough information to accurately evaluate the impact of autonomous vehicles on first responders.

Shortly after the CPUC gave the company permission to offer paid daytime rides, the California DMV opened an investigation into a Cruise robotaxi’s collision with a fire truck. The agency then asked Cruise to cut its fleet in half and to limit its driverless vehicles in operation to 50 during daytime and 150 at night while the investigation is ongoing. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Source: Engadget