General Motors’ Cruise Automation subsidiary has taken the plunge and launched its own ride-sharing service using self-driving cars. But the service, called Cruise Anywhere, is only available to Cruise employees in San Francisco.
Cruise Anywhere is still in its beta development stage, hence the employee-only restriction, according to TechCrunch. Cruise claims about 10 percent of its San Francisco employees are already using the service, and there is enough interest that the company has had to form a waiting list.
Some employees are even using Cruise Anywhere as their primary form of transportation, according to the company. One employee has made over 60 trips in the past three weeks or so. While humans have had to take over manual control in some instances, Cruise claims the the majority of of miles have been covered autonomously.
Cruise employees use a smartphone app to hail one of the company’s autonomous Chevrolet Bolt test cars. The service is available seven days a week and 16 to 24 hours a day, depending on fleet scheduling. It covers virtually all of San Francisco, limited only by the availability of accurate digital maps.
While Cruise has used a smartphone app in its testing before, the company hopes to build Cruise Anywhere into a fully-functioning ride-sharing service. It believes such a service will help commercialize its autonomous-driving tech faster. But with ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft already heavily entrenched in autonomous driving, Cruise faces plenty of competition.
Cruise’s beta autonomous ride-sharing service is a major step, but the company still has a long way to go. It faces a crowded field of companies developing autonomous-driving tech for ride sharing…and the GM subsidiary still must convince people who don’t already work for it to trust self-driving cars.