Driverless Cabs Hit San Francisco — Cruise is Bringing its Self-Driving Rides to California
- California licenses driverless cab services to operate in San Francisco.
- The regulators gave one autonomous taxi services company the green light to start charging passengers for driverless drives.
- According to the license, the autonomous electric taxi will operate at night when the city streets are less congested until the city assesses its safety.
- Regulators limit operations of driverless cabs to minimize the chances of the autonomous vehicle causing injuries, property damage, or death in case anything goes wrong.
- On the flip side, autonomous car pioneers hail driverless cars as a way to make taxis less expensive while reducing traffic death and accidents caused by reckless human drivers.
Driverless cars are here. The first driverless cabs have hit the streets of San Francisco and are already making a big splash. The cabs, part of the Pilot program that the city sponsors, are currently available to a select group of people. However, driverless cars are already proving to be popular.
The autonomous taxi is big news because it’s the first time anywhere in the country that a cab company has been granted a license to operate driverless cabs. The company Cruise can now charge for fully driverless rides in San Francisco.
How the Driverless Cabs Operate
A self-driving cab has sensors, actuators, a machine learning system, a complex algorithm, and a powerful processor to execute software. The technology allows the car to navigate autonomously. You can hail the car using a smartphone app when you reach your destination.
The cab has a map of its surroundings based on various sensors in different parts of the vehicle. Sensors allow the cab to sense its environment and operate without involving a human.
Passengers won’t need to take control of the vehicle at any time. You’ll only have to choose your destination, pay for the ride, and rate your experience using the smartphone app. The car will do everything else that an experienced human driver does.
So far, the customers’ ratings are overwhelmingly positive, with passengers praising the cab for their convenience and safety. The City of San Francisco has set the Pilot program to only run for a few months, but it’s clear that driverless cabs are here to stay.
According to self-driven car pioneers, the driverless cabs test in San Francisco is a giant leap to save lives, the planet from dirty energy, and people’s time and money.
The Limitation of Driverless Cabs
While fully autonomous cabs would improve our world and lives, some questionable assertions exist that self-driving cars can make mistakes that human drivers can’t make. The limitations made California offer licenses with several restrictions.
Operation Time Restrictions
The driverless cabs license in San Francisco allows the taxis to only operate from 10 pm to 6 am. The city says there’s less traffic at night and few pedestrians in the streets if anything goes wrong.
However, the times are okay because those are the time when most people need a cab.
Bad Weather Limitation
The California license won’t allow the autonomous cabs to operate in heavy rains or fog. The restriction tends to limit the chances of malfunction because of bad weather.
A driverless cab will have a problem driving during heavy precipitation. The lane dividers disappear when a layer of snow is on the road. The car’s cameras and sensors will have problems tracking the lane markings, which might cause unknown malfunctions.
The license limits driverless cabs to only operate under specific weather conditions to protect the public and the passenger from the dangers of bad weather malfunction.
Another limitation is that the cab can only operate at a maximum speed of 30 miles an hour. While the speed is perfect for the streets of San Francisco — which are narrow and tend to have lower speed limits — the speed might be lower for expressways.
Response to Emergencies
The lack of a responsive driver in the cab can cause problems during emergencies. For instance, one of the Cruise robotic cars blocked a San Francisco fire truck on its way to call out. Such incidences slow the deployment of driverless cars.
While the car is intelligent, it might still require programming to respond to emergencies. Plus, most fully autonomous vehicles will not have a dashboard or steering wheel. Such a design might limit human passengers from taking control of the vehicle in an emergency.
Adopting driverless cabs is the first step of a lengthy process to build confidence with the public. The city has been testing driverless cabs in San Francisco for the past few years. The company has collected a gazillion data bits to develop algorithms that are far better at traveling the highways and byways of San Francisco, which is why they’re limited to the city.
The World is Shifting to Driverless Cars
The world is going to see more driverless cab licenses being issued. For instance, Phoenix is on the cusp of allowing driverless taxis in the city. The taxis will operate during the daytime, not just at night.
Next time you call for a cab in one of the big cities, you might find yourself sitting in the back seat with nobody in the front seat.
The Cruise is a company owned by General Motors to promote autonomous vehicles and driving. Many car companies such as Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Mercedes, and Toyota are all involved in the driverless car concepts. Sometimes, these companies fund other companies like Cruise or Startup to popularize driverless cabs.
Tesla sometimes does the popularizing on their own. The company has been touting its ability to have its cars drive themselves, even though they add a caveat that a driver must be in the seat and their hands are on the wheel.
All car companies are looking for the holy grail of getting to the point where cars will need no drivers. The driverless cab prices will be much lower because all the cars are electric-powered. There will be no need for fuel, making them more popular as the gas prices hike.
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