General Motors-controlled Cruise is delaying the rollout of a commercial self-driving taxi service that it previously said would start in 2019.
The autonomous tech firm has mainly been testing vehicles on public streets in San Francisco, where it also shuttles employees in Chevrolet Bolt electric cars outfitted with cameras, Lidar and radar systems that are manufactured under the Cruise brand name. Back-up drivers are onboard all of the vehicles to monitor their operation.
Cruise CEO Dan Ammann wrote in a Medium post updating the company’s progress that it plans to win “the tech and the trust race” in the burgeoning self-driving car segment.
“When you’re working on the large scale deployment of mission critical safety systems, the mindset of ‘move fast and break things’ certainly doesn’t cut it,” Ammann wrote.
Ammann added that the first deployment will only take place when Cruise can demonstrate that its vehicles provide a net positive safety impact and that it is working with regulators on how to determine that. He did not predict a new timeframe for when that would happen.
Honda invested $2.75 billion in Cruise last November, and the company was valued at $19 billion after a funding round completed in May. Cruise has petitioned the federal government to allow it to use fully-autonomous vehicles without steering wheels or pedals, but has yet to receive approval.
Cruise is in a race against several self-driving efforts, including Ford and VW-run Argo AI's ride-hailing and delivery service scheduled for 2021, and Waymo, which is currently operating autonomous taxis with safety drivers in Arizona. Elon Musk has also said that Tesla’s entire lineup will be capable of fully autonomous driving next year and plans to allow owners to offer them as taxis through a company-run service when regulations allow.