In August 2021, GM Cruise received a permit from the California DMV to operate robotic taxi services with passengers, and that night also saw the first ride. And it was absolutely driverless.
Kyle Vogt, co-founder and chief development officer of Cruise Automation, a startup acquired by General Motors, served as passenger number 1. In the middle of the night – Cruise is currently only allowed to operate its vehicles driverless in San Francisco between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. – Vogt orders a vehicle via app, waits until it arrives, and we can follow what the vehicle tells him on the app as he takes his place in the back seat of the Chevrolet Bolt, first putting on his seat belt incorrectly out of sheer nervousness, and then confessing how normal and uneventful the whole ride seems.
During the ride, he pulls a small toy truck out of his pocket that belongs to his three-year-old son and is supposed to serve as a memento of this ride. Vogt seems a bit disappointed because none of the oncoming drivers or passing pedestrians notice that there is no driver in the vehicle. However, Vogt thanks the entire Cruise and GM team for their work over the past seven to eight years, which was initially said to be an impossible task.
Vogt also makes an interesting comparison: he describes the development of autonomous cars as creating a magic carpet to which you whisper your destination and it then whisks you there. Here now is an eight-minute video summary of that ride:
This article was also posted in German.