Skip to main content

Cruise says it’s nearing approval for mass production of futuristic robotaxi

Interior of Cruise's Origin vehicle.
Cruise

Robotaxi company Cruise is “just days away” from getting regulatory approval that would pave the way for mass production of its purpose-built driverless vehicle, CEO Kyle Vogt said on Thursday in comments reported by the Detroit Free Press.

General Motors-backed Cruise unveiled the vehicle — called Origin — in early 2020, presenting the kind of driverless car that we all dreamed of when R&D in the sector kicked off years ago; a vehicle without a steering wheel and without pedals. A vehicle with passenger seats only.

Cruise’s current robotaxis, which operate in cities such as San Francisco and Phoenix, are modified vehicles and therefore come with a steering wheel, though companies in the sector are obviously looking to do away with it.

Cruise envisions thousands of the driverless Origin vehicles providing ridesharing services in cities across the U.S. But as the Origin has no steering wheel or other means of manual control found in regular automobiles, there is still a regulatory obstacle course to be navigated, including getting an all-important exemption from federal safety standards, which Vogt believes could be coming this month.

Critics of the current robotaxi services operated by Cruise and another major player — Waymo — fear that having vehicles like the Origin on the road could be a step too far at the current time, pointing to a string of incidents involving autonomous cars that have caused problems on the streets of San Francisco.

Just last month Cruise was ordered by regulators to halve its robotaxi fleet in San Francisco following a crash with a fire truck in which the driverless car’s passenger suffered minor injuries. The decision came just days after California’s Public Utilities Commission made a landmark decision when it voted to allow Cruise and Waymo to expand their paid ridesharing services in the city to all hours of the day instead of just quieter periods.

Vogt has voiced concerns that excessive resistance by critics could hinder the development of an autonomous technology that should ultimately make roads much safer.

Waymo has also shared a design for a vehicle similar to Cruise’s Origin. It’s the result of a partnership with Chinese automaker Geely and is based on its Zeekr minivan. Waymo said riders traveling inside the autonomous vehicle will experience “an interior without steering wheel and pedals, and with plenty of headroom, legroom and reclining seats, screens and chargers within arm’s reach, and an easy to configure and comfortable vehicle cabin.”

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Waymo expands robotaxi service area in San Francisco
The upcoming Zeekr vehicle from Geely.

Robotaxi leader Waymo is expanding its ridesharing service area in San Francisco.

The Alphabet-owned company announced move on Monday in a message on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. It means that more riders can now take trips in Waymo’s driverless vehicles within a 47-square-mile area of the city.

Read more
Cruise autonomous vehicle drives over woman just after she was hit by another car
A Cruise autonomous car.

An autonomous vehicle (AV) operated by Cruise ran over a pedestrian in San Francisco on Monday night just after she’d been hit by another car, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

According to witnesses, the force of the initial impact knocked the woman into the path of the Cruise robotaxi, leaving her pinned under one of its wheels. The driver in the other car reportedly fled the scene.

Read more
Robotaxi firm Cruise ordered to halve fleet following incidents
A Cruise autonomous car.

Autonomous car company Cruise has been told by regulators to halve its robotaxi fleet in San Francisco following a crash with a fire truck on Thursday in which the driverless car's passenger suffered minor injuries.

The regulator -- the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) -- said that it’s looking into “recent concerning incidents” involving self-driving Cruise cars operating on the city’s public roads.

Read more