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Cruise Robotaxis Entering More Cities

Cruise has slowly been expanding its network of robotaxis and their availability in certain markets. Though, it’s been a long time since the company entered new cities … until now. Cruise is now coming to Houston and Dallas.

While Cruise vehicles will be fully self driving and operate even without safety drivers in other markets, for some period of time, they will include safety drivers in Dallas and Houston.

If you’re in one of the cities where Cruise operates — San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, Houston, or Phoenix — you can try to start using Cruise robotaxis by getting on the company’s waitlist. It’s not open to everyone yet.

Cruise’s progress has been a bit of a “two steps forward, one step backward” situation. Back in June of 2022, Cruise became the first robotaxi company to offer autonomous rides for a fare (not just for free), but a month later, it was making headlines for clogging up streets in San Francisco. Toward the end of 2022, Cruise expanded massively in the San Francisco region. In December, Cruise launched in Austin, Texas. (I actually snapped the pics of Cruise vehicles in Austin, above and below, in November as they were getting settled there.)

That was two steps forward, so we must be at one step back next, right? Indeed. “In January, San Francisco’s Transportation Authority asked regulators to limit or temporarily pause Cruise and competitor Waymo’s expansion, citing repeated cases of their cars inexplicably stopping in traffic and blocking emergency vehicles,” Engadget reports. But that’s no reason to stop the fun train. “As of yet, things have done anything but slow down. Since the request, Cruise celebrated one million fully driverless miles on top of making its robotaxis available at all times in San Francisco — though full access is only for employees.”

Unfortunately, you can’t just grab a Cruise robotaxi in Houston and Dallas now. What we know is that it’s entering these markets, not when.

In case you haven’t been following along, Cruise robotaxis are considered Level 4 autonomous. They can operate 100% on their own within certain geographic boundaries or parameters. You can’t drop them in the desert and ask them to get you to the nearest Starbucks. (Well, I guess Phoenix is sort of the desert … but anyway.)

One thing that crossed my mind while uploading these pictures is that these robotaxis have been based on an electric car model that is being discontinued, the Chevy Bolt. What will Cruise turn to next? One possibility is the Cruise Origin, a robotaxi-tailored vehicle that’s been in development for years, first unveiled in January 2020.

Image courtesy of Cruise

Image courtesy of Cruise

Aside from delivering humans to their desired destinations, Cruise is inching into the actual delivery business as well. “Cruise is also working on expansion of its autonomous vehicles into delivery services,” GM Authority writes. “Autonomous vehicle units equipped with a locker to securely carry groceries or other delivery payloads have been reported. Major retail chain Walmart is investing in the technology, with eight stores currently participating in testing.”

Image courtesy of Cruise & Walmart

What’s next in Cruise news? We’ll see, and we’ll let you know.

Cruise aims to earn $1 billion in annual revenue by 2025. Can it do that?

On the technical side of things, you can explore Cruise’s April 2023 release notes here.

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