GM promised to have its Cruise self-driving taxi service up and running in three US cities by the end of 2022 — and, as of this week, it has officially kept that promise with Cruise taxis operating in San Francisco, CA, Phoenix, AZ, and (now) Austin, TX.
Cruise CEO, Kyle Vogt, took a victory lap on Twitter last week, complete with video …
We promised we’d go driverless in 3 cities by the end of this year, and WE DID IT! @Cruise is now live in SF, Austin, and Phoenix.
Folks, we are entering the golden years of AV expansion.
More about this launch: pic.twitter.com/guocKlWmf4
— Kyle Vogt (@kvogt) December 20, 2022
… but it wasn’t until a couple of days later that we got a real-life “first look” at the autonomous taxi service operating in Austin in this 7-minute video (also posted to Twitter) from Austin-area Bitcoiner Sahil Chaturvedi, which you can watch below:
Last night, @cruise launched their self-driving (NO humans in the car!) taxi service in downtown Austin, TX 🤠
I was lucky to be able to try it out! Here's my first impression.
— SAHIL (@SahilC0) December 22, 2022
That’s not to say that the GM robotaxi effort has been perfect. Earlier this year, one Cruise EV was pulled over by SFPD before it “bolted” off, and the NHTSA opened an investigation into Cruise vehicles causing accidents, stopping abruptly and blocking roadways. The NHTSA investigation marks yet another similarity between “modern” GM and Tesla.
So, why is this such a big deal? Because it kinda-sorta makes GM’s biggest robotaxi rival, Tesla, look really, really bad.
That’s because Tesla has been promising to put fully autonomous, self driving “robotaxi” capabilities on the road “next year” since at least 2016 … and those self-driving taxis are critically important to Tesla — at least according to Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, who emphasized the importance of getting his company’s self-driving robotaxi service up and running as quickly as possible. “The overwhelming focus is on solving full self-driving,” Musk told interviewers on the YouTube channel, Tesla Owners Silicon Valley. “That’s essential. It’s really the difference between Tesla being worth a lot of money or worth basically zero.”
You can read some of those promises — which include a Tesla Network ride-hailing service and references to Superchargers with “automatic charge connection” in the 2016 screengrab below, then let us know what you think of GM Cruise meeting its goal — and whether or not that constitutes beating Tesla to the punch — in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Sources: GM, Bloomberg.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book
Our Latest EVObsession Video
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.