Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said Thursday it will expand its robotaxi service to Nashville as the GM subsidiary ramps up its commercial operations.
The company’s self-driving vehicles will arrive on Nashville streets this week with a robotaxi service to follow.
The announcement is the latest example of Cruise’s aggressive push into commercial operations. Cruise will also begin testing in multiple, new cities, according to the company. If the company’s careers page provides any hints, it seems Atlanta is one of them.
A year ago, the company only operated in San Francisco. Cruise has since expanded to Austin, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and most recently Miami.
Cruise isn’t commercially operating in all of these cities just yet. Cruise has established a formula for its rollouts. The company typically enters a new market with test vehicles. Eventually, those vehicles will lose the human safety operator — making it driverless. A ride-hailing service will become available first to employees and then customers who have signed up for the service. The service area and hours often start on a limited basis and slowly expand.
Today, the company has commercial operations in San Francisco, Austin and Phoenix, with one important caveat. Cruise still isn’t charging for rides in San Francisco because it’s awaiting a final permit from the California Public Utilities Commission.
Vogt said the company has been able to scale so quickly via its so-called city-first strategy, which starts with generalized tech and then tweaks the software to fit specific environments.
“What we had to do was find the areas where our AV system didn’t generalize well and fix it,” he wrote. “In some cases it was as simple as retraining our ML models using data from the new city. In some cases we found we had to redesign parts of a system.”
This approach means each new city requires less work than the last, according to Cruise.