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California Approves A Pilot Program For Driverless Rides

Cruise, a self-driving car service out of San Francisco, was granted a driverless vehicle permit for the state's autonomous vehicle pilot program.
Cruise, a self-driving car service out of San Francisco, was granted a driverless vehicle permit for the state's autonomous vehicle pilot program.

The California Public Utilities Commission announced Friday that Cruise, a self-driving car service out of San Francisco, has been authorized to participate in the state's first pilot program to provide driverless ride services to the public.

The company is not allowed to charge passengers for rides.

Eight companies have permits for testing driverless vehicles in California, but Cruise is the only company approved for giving rides to passengers without a safety driver on board. However, the vehicles still have to have a link to a remote safety operator.

So far, Cruise says its autonomous cars have logged more than 2 million miles driven in California. The company also has more than 300 all-electric autonomous vehicles operating in San Francisco and in Phoenix.

Cruise was acquired by General Motors in 2016 and has had big investments from Softbank, Honda, T. Rowe Price, Microsoft and Walmart.

Many vehicles on the road today already implement some level of automation technology, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration breaks down into various levels.

Despite the rise of automated vehicle technology, an American Automobile Association survey conducted in January found most drivers are hesitant to get in a self-driving car. The study suggests that only 14% of drivers trust a car to do all the driving, 54% are too afraid to try it and the remaining 32% are unsure.

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