Cruise seeks self-driving expansion across California

Self-driving technology company Cruise is expanding its California ambitions beyond San Francisco.

Company executives asked California regulators Monday to amend their existing permit to allow for testing of autonomous vehicles throughout the state. Cruise’s efforts have been restricted to specified areas of San Francisco.

Should the California Department of Motor Vehicles grant the company’s request, General Motors-backed Cruise will be “ready to expand to essentially any city in the state,” CEO Kyle Vogt told Automotive News.

While he declined to provide specifics on which California cities the company might target, he signaled Cruise would look southward.

“Warmer cities are, you know, on the table for us in the near term,” Vogt said.

That might indicate Cruise is eyeing Los Angeles, a place where robotaxi competitors like Waymo and Motional are already testing self-driving vehicles and planning ride-hailing services. None of those companies has requested the necessary permit from the California Public Utilities Commission to begin driverless commercial service.

The application is the “first step” in the process of broader California efforts, a Cruise spokesperson said, and there are no immediate changes to the company’s testing or operations. No decisions have been made on any California locations outside San Francisco, the spokesperson said.

A California DMV spokesperson declined to comment Wednesday on the company’s pending application to expand the scope of its permit.

Cruise received its initial testing permit from the California DMV in October 2020, which restricts Cruise’s operations to specified areas of San Francisco. Cruise already operates driverless, commercial service in San Francisco, with as many as 150 vehicles on the road at a given time, Vogt said.

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