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Howdy, Houston 👋 Starting today we will be welcoming members of the public to our driverless service.
— cruise (@Cruise) October 12, 2023
Cruise has opened its robotaxi service to the public in Houston. The company will operate seven days a week from 9 PM to 6 AM in an 11 square mile area that covers the Downtown, Midtown, East Downtown, Montrose, Hyde Park, and River Oaks neighborhoods.
Cruise began testing its robotaxis, with safety drivers behind the wheel, in May of this year in both Houston and Dallas. Houston marks the fourth city that Cruise has started public operations in, following San Francisco, Phoenix, and Austin.
The company tests in four other cities, Charlotte, NC, Dallas, Miami, and Nashville. Cruise has been rapidly expanding its robotaxi operations in the last year. While it took the company 33 months to receive all the regulatory approval it needed to begin rides in San Francisco, according to Vogt, it took just three weeks for the company’s next deployment locations in Phoenix and Austin.
This rapid growth falls in line with the company’s deployment philosophy. It started its operations in San Francisco, a city with notoriously difficult traffic conditions. Between steep hills, heavy traffic, and fog, the robotaxis had plenty to get used to there.
Once they had tackled San Francisco, however, Cruise’s technology had a solid foundation of knowledge about how to drive, meaning the company simply had to adjust its system to new cities with different driving cultures to deploy in them.
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While Cruise has had much success in rolling out its robotaxi services, it hasn’t been without challenges. Earlier this year, the company issued a voluntary recall of 300 Cruise vehicles with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The recall was in response to a minor collision where a Cruise robotaxi hit the back of a San Francisco bus.