San Francisco, CA–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in ongoing efforts to support transportation innovation, issued the first Phase I Driverless Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service Deployment permit in California to Cruise LLC to allow for passenger service without a driver present in the vehicle.
With this permit, Cruise may offer passenger service to the general public in its fleet of 30 all-electric AVs without a safety driver present on select streets in San Francisco at a maximum speed of 30 mph, from the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily when weather conditions do not include heavy rain, heavy fog, heavy smoke, hail, sleet, or snow. Cruise is authorized to collect fares for these rides but cannot offer shared rides between passengers from different parties at this time. If Cruise intends to change its driverless deployment operations in a way that materially affects the strategies outlined in its Passenger Safety Plan, it must submit an updated Passenger Safety Plan to the CPUC for approval. This includes, but is not limited to, expansions to the hours, geography, roadway types, speed range, or weather conditions of its operations.
Cruise, along with any other future participants in the Driverless Deployment program, must prepare a report and presentation updating stakeholders on how the strategies in its Passenger Safety Plan have been operationalized in deployment, for example, during pickup and drop-off events, as part of a future CPUC workshop.
“This is another exciting step for our autonomous vehicle program,” said CPUC President Alice Reynolds. “I look forward to furthering public engagement on the safe and equitable deployment of these innovative services as they mature through future reports and workshops.”
“The CPUC’s diligent work on the Autonomous Vehicle Program is creating an innovative path to improved public safety, accessible and equitable transportation, and benefits to the environment,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma.
The CPUC regulates the use of Autonomous Vehicles in providing passenger service throughout California. It does so through the permitting processes for the programs, data collection and analysis, and potential investigative or enforcement actions. The CPUC has adopted specific goals for the Autonomous Vehicle programs: 1) protect passenger safety, 2) expand the benefits of vehicle technologies to all Californians, including people with disabilities, 3) improve transportation options for all, particularly for disadvantaged communities and low-income communities, and 4) reduce greenhouse gas emissions, criteria air pollutants, and toxic air contaminants, particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Autonomous Vehicle policy and regulatory issues are addressed in Rulemaking 12-12-011.