GM’s Cruise now offers driverless public taxi service in San Francisco

You no longer have to become a GM . employee to try Cruise’s self-driving taxi service. TechCrunch Note Cruise has open a completely driverless ride hailing feature for the public in San Francisco. The company is initially only accepting check-ins for “a small number” of passengers, but those early rides will be free. Cruise will open more seats as more cars are available.

Be prepared for an unusual pick-up. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that the first service runs from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., and you’ll have to be happy with rides in certain areas of Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights and Richmond District. Running at night will give Cruise the most impact and will expand over time, a spokesperson said.

The free rides are not entirely voluntary. While Cruise has most licenses needed to provide driverless services, it doesn’t yet have the necessary California Public Utilities Commission permits to charge for those rides.

The launch comes at a favorable time for Cruise. Meanwhile The sudden death of CEO Dan Ammann In December, the SoftBank Vision Fund is investing an additional $1.35 billion in the company that is currently running truly driverless cars. Cruise could be better off paying for those free rides, and if not, take the time to build autonomous driving technology that includes Origin shuttle. The company is not necessarily facing a crisis GM .’s healthy financesbut this obviously relieves some of the monetization pressure.

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