With a Fresh $1.35B From SoftBank, Cruise Opens Its Robotaxis to the Public

Cruise’s branded orange-and-white autonomous vehicles have become a familiar sight here in the Bay Area, and can now officially give rides to the general public.

Written by Ellen Glover
Published on Feb. 01, 2022
With a Fresh $1.35B From SoftBank, Cruise Opens Its Robotaxis to the Public
SF-based Cruise raised $1.35B from Softbank, hiring
Photo: Cruise

It’s all happening!

After weeks of test rides among its employees, some select members of the public and even parent company General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra — not to mention years of autonomous vehicle hardware and software development — Cruise says it is finally opening up its driverless robotaxi service to the general public here in San Francisco. The startup also announced that it just scored a $1.35 billion investment from SoftBank Vision Fund.

This fresh tranche is an extension of the $900 million SoftBank initially gave Cruise back in 2018, when the VC firm promised it would invest more when the startup was ready for commercial deployment. Well, Cruise’s co-founder and interim CEO Kyle Vogt says it has “officially hit that milestone,” and it will use the additional capital to grow its team and scale its technology across the city and into more communities.

For now, these rides are free, and a public waitlist has been set up on Cruise’s website. According to TechCrunch, the driverless service is available from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., and will be limited to certain areas and streets within the Haight-Ashbury, Richmond District, Chinatown and Pacific Heights neighborhoods for the time being. The publication also reported that Cruise has nearly all of its permits required to operate rides in cars with no human driver behind the wheel, and has applied for a permit with the California Public Utilities Commission to charge for those rides.  

It goes without saying that this is a huge step for both the Cruise and the larger world of autonomous vehicles. Cruise was founded in 2013, then acquired by GM in 2016. It has since become a leader in the push to make self-driving cars more widely available, and its branded orange and white Chevy Bolts (adorned with cute names like Sourdough, Tostada, Disco and Poppy) are a familiar site here in the Bay Area. The startup was most recently valued at more than $30 billion after it received a massive $2 billion investment from Microsoft, Honda, GM and others. 

 

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