“You see completely driverless technology from that [research and development] Phase and in the beginning of the journey to a real commercial product, ”says Dan Ammann, CEO of Cruise.
California regulators approved new rules on Nov. 19 that will allow hailships to pick up paying passengers in self-driving cars. Companies must get both a safety and a pandemic plan approved to minimize the risk for all drivers, including those with reduced mobility, visual impairments and other disabilities. But Cruise is not looking for passengers yet.
Instead, Ammann promised the company would proceed cautiously while initially shipping up to five completely driverless cars to parts of San Francisco. Cruise staff will most likely be the only passengers driving the fully driverless cars, as they were when the company tested the vehicles with a human backup behind the wheel.
Older potential users are reluctant to drive
Although older people who need to run errands but may not want to drive on crowded streets could benefit most from autonomous vehicles, only about a quarter of 45- to 54-year-olds felt comfortable in a driverless car, compared with 40 percent of 25-year-olds According to a 2017 survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab, the number is 34 and just over a third of 35 to 44 year olds. Comfort decreased with increasing age of the respondents: Among 55 to 64 year olds, less than one in five drove in a robotic vehicle. In the 65 to 74 year olds it fell to 1 in 7 and in the over 75 year olds to a little more than 1 in 8.
Ammann declined to provide a schedule when asked if Cruise intended to use its driverless cars as hail service in San Francisco in 2021.