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Cruise Expands Robotaxi Service in San Francisco Massively

One criticism of lidar-using robotaxi startups has long been the limited geographies in which they operate. Waymo started in a corner of Phoenix, and then a corner of San Francisco, and it isn’t much beyond those starting spots still! Cruise Automation, aka Cruise, started in a corner of San Francisco. Cruise, however, has just expanded quite massively and now covers almost all of San Francisco. That’s an impressive feat, and could signal a lot of potential for Cruise to go into numerous big cities and provide nearly complete coverage within its borders and suburbs.

Here’s a lot at where Cruise started in San Francisco a year ago and where it is as of today (map also above):

As the second tweet in Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt’s tweet thread shows, this service area isn’t quite available to the general public yet — just to Cruise employees (I assume that’s who “Cruisers” are) — but it will be live for everyone soon-ish.

All in all, it’s a fascinating time for this expansion. Argo AI just shut down as Ford and Volkswagen pulled funding — not long after launching a robotaxi service in Austin in cooperation with Lyft, ironically. Intel’s Mobileye has gone public in what’s widely considered the end of a poor bet by Intel. Tesla’s Full Self Driving development is not nearly as far along as Tesla CEO Elon Musk said a few years ago it would be by now, and it’s actually hard to notice much improvement at all in the past year. (Meanwhile, Elon has shifted his focus to Twitter and even pulled about 50 Tesla software engineers over there to work on that indefinitely as well.) George Hotz is stepping away from It’s quite interesting that during this time of bailout, disillusionment, and boredom for many on the promise of robotaxis Cruise is actually making a leap forward.

That’s not to say the operation is profitable, or close to profitable,, or ever going to be profitable. But it’s expanding, and that’s something.

Also, while much virtual ink is put down to write about Waymo (the OG in this space) and pop star Tesla, Cruise has been blazing a trail and setting some records in this arena. On June 1, Cruise became the first company to get a Driverless Deployment Permit granted from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and thus begin commercial operation of robotaxis. “This means that Cruise will be the first and only company to operate a commercial, driverless ridehail service in a major U.S. city,” Gil West, Chief Operating Officer at Cruise, wrote at the time. Without a doubt, the fares don’t come close to covering Cruise’s costs, but it’s a start.

With Cruise’s expansion throughout almost all of San Francisco, I now expect that it will expand to another city in California — or perhaps beyond — fairly soon. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t open up shop in another city within the year.

Let us know if you experience a Cruise robotaxi in San Francisco, and what you think of it.

Images courtesy of Cruise.

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