GM’s Cruise gets permission to test autonomous cars with no passengers

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OAKLAND, Calif. — The race for driverless autonomous vehicles is heating up and on Thursday Cruise became the first to receive a permit to test cars without anyone in them on the streets of San Francisco from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
Cruise, which is majority owned by General Motors and counts Honda and SoftBank Group as investors, has been testing 180 self-driving cars in San Francisco with a safety driver behind the wheel, and the permit allows five of those cars to roam empty. But don’t expect robo-taxis just yet.
“So that’s a step or two beyond what we’ll be doing initially with this permit,” said Dan Ammann, Cruise’s chief executive. “It’s not too far down the road,” he said, but declined to share a timeline.
In a blog post, he added, “We’re not the first company to receive this permit, but we’re going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major U.S. city.”
It will be an important step for Cruise to charge customers.
For any of the companies to start making money on rides in California, a separate permit is required, state officials said.
As part …

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