Earlier this week, the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked GM Cruise’s license to operate self-driving cars in San Francisco, California, and elsewhere in the state for alleged safety concerns.
The cars might feel new, but they’ve actually been Cruise-ing (see what we did there?) around San Francisco’s streets for years.
I’ve been covering the story as a pro photographer since the early days!
Let’s have a look back at Cruise’s SF robotaxis, in photos.
I remember first pulling up beside one of these robotaxis in 2018, and thinking “What’s that thing?”
As a pro photographer, I did my research and started following the cars around the city.
In the early days, they were hard to spot, and always had human safety drivers. You can see the driver in the photo above.
This is one of my favorite shots of the Cruise cars. This one is driving through the Mission District. It has 2 safety drivers!
During the pandemic, Cruise ramped up their testing in San Francisco, driving their vehicles for millions of miles.
Later on, the company started operating in Austin, Texas. I went there in early 2023 and shot this overhead photo of a giant lot filled with Cruise cars. That’s a lot of robots!
Cruise also started offering rides that were totally autonomous–no more safety driver included! This move–as well as an increase in the number of vehicles on the road–prompted a local backlash.
Cruise’s cars are now off the road while the DMV investigates the alleged safety problems with the vehicles. Waymo, a competitor, is still on the road.
I hope the safety issues are resolved. Seeing some of San Francisco’s human drivers and our legendary traffic, I can’t help that feel like self-driving cars–executed well-might be a good idea in the long run.