Initially, the service will be offered mainly to Cruise employees, although certain members of the public will also be able to ride without being charged a fare. Cruise did not specify who would qualify to ride, but the company has not opened its driverless service to members of the general public yet.
Now, imagine someone hailing a ride using a smartphone app and a fully autonomous car arrives to pick them up minutes later, with no one in the driver’s seat. Actually, you don’t have to imagine that because Cruise co-founder, CTO and president Kyle Vogt, has become the first person to hail a driverless Cruise ride in San Francisco on Monday night.
Videos shared on Cruise’s YouTube channel document the entire trip, and we have to say it's really impressive, especially considering that this was the first ride without a human in the driver’s or passenger’s seat.
Kyle Vogt posted a series of tweets about the first driverless ride in a Cruise AV (that particular car is named Sourdough), and was naturally excited about it.
“Monday night was a night I’ll never forget. I’m still speechless. I got to take the first ride, by anyone, ever, in a *driverless* robotaxi on the streets of San Francisco.”
He went on to recount how the entire experience went smoothly, and pointed out how special it felt.
“It’s hard to explain, but without someone sitting in the driver’s seat, the AV comes to life in a different way - almost like it has its own personality. I'd say Sourdough’s driving gave off a gingerly yet confident vibe.”
After Vogt was driven fully autonomously to his destination, he wanted to test the service further, so he requested five more rides that night, bringing along Cruise co-founder Dan Kan, SVP of Engineering Mo ElShenawy, and COO Gil West. “Smooth, flawless rides. It all… just worked,” he tweeted.
If you’re wondering why the rides happened at night, it’s because the California DMV’s “driverless deployment permit” granted to Cruise in early October stipulates that AVs can only operate driverless between 10 pm and 6 am and at a max speed of 30 mph (50 km/h).
You can watch the Cruise AV’s first driverless ride in the video above, but make sure you also check out the video below. It features a full, unedited shot of the steering wheel and cameras during the driverless rides given that night, including the time before and after rides when the AV was in “ghost mode” and driving around without anyone in it.