GM’s Cruise gets OK to test truly driverless cars in San Francisco

California DMV allows human backup drivers to be pulled from autonomous vehicles

General Motors’ GM, 1.26% Cruise autonomous vehicle unit says it will pull the human backup drivers from its vehicles in San Francisco by the end of the year.

Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a statement that the company got a permit Thursday from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to let the cars travel on their own.

The move follows last week’s announcement from Waymo that it would open its autonomous ride-hailing service to the public in the Phoenix area in vehicles without human drivers.

Waymo, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, 0.56% GOOG, 0.43%, is hoping to eventually expand the service into California.

Cruise said its cars without human backups will circulate in selected San Francisco neighborhoods at first, then spread to the entire city. It’s not clear, however, when it will offer rides.

Ammann said that safely removing the driver is the true benchmark of a self-driving car, especially navigating one of the most difficult cities of the world for drivers.

The moves by Waymo and Cruise, which are considered among the leaders in autonomous vehicles, are important steps in the march toward proliferation of self-driving cars.

Progress toward autonomous vehicles slowed markedly after an Uber autonomous test SUV ran down a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in 2018.

This article was originally posted by MarketWatch.