Are you ready to ride in cars without a driver?
Prepare to buckle up because General Motors announced it will have its Cruise "robot car" to hit the roads in San Francisco without any human intervention.
General Motors Corp.'s Cruise chief executive officer Dan Amman said the company had secured a permit from California's motor vehicle agency to test-drive its autonomous four-wheeler in public highways.
The autonomous vehicles will initially be used in suburban streets and answer queries from the public before it sets out in the downtown area.
General Motors Corp. follows Waymo in launching an autonomous-vehicle ride-hailing service in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
Research engineer Steven Shladover of the University of California, who studied self-driving vehicles for decades, said the efforts of both Waymo and General Motors Corp. were a logical follow-through of their inventions and innovation.
"I don't see them as revolutionary steps, but they're part of this step-by-step progress toward getting the technology to be able to work under a wider range of conditions," AP quoted Shladover as saying.
Ten years ago, autonomous vehicles were sci-fi stuff and now they are about to become commercially available, albeit gradually.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has spent a lot of money and studied for years to create autonomous commercial vehicles. Although it laid the foundation for autonomous-vehicle technology, it stopped when it came to creating an autonomous vehicle that could drive like a normal car.
According to Intel as reported by Forbes, autonomous-vehicle technology could set the stage to a "passenger economy" valued at $7 trillion by 2050. However, this new trend is also seen to affect other segments of the economy, especially traditional carmakers and even some gasoline stations, drivers and truckers but the technology is expected to benefit the economy, analysts said.