Aug 31, 2023 - News

Self-driving taxi company Cruise eyes Atlanta

A woman exits a self-driving taxi that says Cruise on the door and has equipment on the top

Photo: Courtesy of Cruise

General Motors-owned Cruise wants to drop self-driving taxis in more than a dozen cities, including Atlanta.

Why it matters: Atlanta's streets and sidewalks are no strangers to tech companies that are making bets on ride-sharing, sidewalk scootin' and house-renting.

  • Welcome to the next iteration of Atlanta's public space serving as a testing ground for privately owned technology and transportation.

Driving the news: Earlier this month, the company rolled out the self-driving cars — with a driver behind the wheel — to start testing the technology, Cruise spokesperson Anna Haase told Axios.

  • The phase was "an important first step in getting to know the city's unique roadways and driving behaviors," she said, adding that the company will likely have an update in the coming months.

Of note: It's unclear whether the driver required any intensive therapy or counseling after experiencing Atlanta's sprawling spaghetti-like road network, craggy pavement and exceptionally erratic drivers.

What they're saying: Joseph F. Hacker, an urban studies professor at Georgia State University who focuses on transit, said the city should consider potential liability issues regarding self-driving vehicles and explore whether their use should be limited to certain areas.

The big picture: After investing tens of billions of dollars in research and development, robotaxi companies Cruise and Waymo are now shifting their focus to commercialization, Axios' Joann Muller writes.

  • Cruise's goal is to scale rapidly by deploying robotaxi fleets across multiple cities — many of them in the Sun Belt, like Atlanta, Nashville and Charlotte.

State of play: Autonomous vehicle technology has been pitched as a game changer for transportation for the past decade — but so far its service is available in three cities: San Francisco, Austin and Phoenix.

  • Cruise is one of the few self-driving car companies expanding in the space after many investors and automakers have scaled back their ambitions, Muller reported.

Yes, but: Cruise has recently hit some stumbling blocks in its hometown of San Francisco after two of its cars crashed and another got stuck in wet cement, Axios San Francisco's Megan Rose Dickey reports.

  • In response to the crashes, the California Department of Motor Vehicles asked Cruise to cut its vehicle fleet size in half as the department conducts an investigation.

Go deeper: Robotaxis hit the accelerator in growing list of cities nationwide


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