New autonomous rideshare service could launch in Phoenix later this year

Phoenix continues to play a key role in the development of autonomous self-driving vehicles.

Similar to Waymo, a new competitor called Cruise is hitting the streets, with the goal of offering rides to the public later in 2023.

The company has been in Phoenix for a little while, but only working with Walmart and doing curbside deliveries. In fact, they have done about 20,000 deliveries in Phoenix alone.

Now, the company is launching a new robo-taxi service venture.

"We see a need in Phoenix for safer, reliable, more sustainable transportation," said Cruise Vice President of Ride Hail Megan Prichard. "Very similar to traditional ride hail, except for nobody is driving."

Cruise started in San Francisco, but has recently expanded to Austin and the Phoenix area. Their cars are backed by General Motors, Honda, Microsoft, Walmart, and other companies. Cruise's fleet is made up of Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles, and all have unique names,

"At the end of the day, this is an amazing experience, and we want to make sure that we are working with communities to serve the needs of citizens," said Prichard.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 31,000 people died in traffic crashes in the first nine months of 2022. They say self-driving cars have the potential to reduce crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives, ultimately eliminating traffic delays and economic tolls.

In some circumstances, automated technologies may be able to detect a threat of a crash, and act faster than human drivers.

"We believe that with autonomous technology, we can dramatically reduce that number," said Prichard. "Additionally, our fleet is all-electric. Transportation is the highest cause of carbon emissions around the globe, so being able to provide an electric fleet is a huge benefit as well."

Currently, Cruise's driverless rides are only available for friends and family of the company, and it operates from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. They are plans, however, to expand to the public later on in 2023.

Similar to other rideshares, people will need to use an app to hail a ride.

"You basically put in your destination, and a car comes to the location that you are at to take you there," said Prichard.

In the future, the company could even have cars that have no wheels or pedals.

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(Courtesy: Cruise)

(Courtesy: Cruise)