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Cruise opens robotaxi waitlist in Austin and Phoenix

Cruise, General Motors' autonomous vehicle subsidiary, is now inviting potential passengers in Phoenix and Austin to join the waitlist to be among the first Cruise robotaxi passengers.

The company has been operating a fully driverless commercial robotaxi service in San Francisco since June, with fully driverless meaning there's no human safety operator behind the wheel. Last month, Cruise announced plans to add Austin, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona to its resume. During GM's third quarter earnings call, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said the company remains on track to complete its first commercial driverless public rides and deliveries by the end of the year.

When Cruise initially launched its waitlist to join the "Cruise Rider Community" in San Francisco earlier this year, it promised rides would be free at first. In the past, the company said initial rides in Austin and Phoenix may be free with the intent to begin charging for the service shortly after, but a spokesperson told TechCrunch today that Cruise will launch a fully driverless paid service immediately.

The company began supervised testing in Austin last month with more than a dozen vehicles, according to Vogt, who noted that Cruise's mapping systems "work as expected." Cruise intends to begin at limited scale and ramp up as the company produces more vehicles -- specifically, the Cruise Origin, a purpose-built AV that Cruise will rely on for its exponential levels of scale and robotaxi domination across the U.S.

Interestingly, as part of the waitlist questionnaire, Cruise asks what time of day riders would most likely use the service: morning, afternoon, night and late night. In San Francisco, Cruise only operates from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in San Francisco, largely due to California's regulations. Cruise's main competitor Waymo, which has been providing a commercial robotaxi service outside of Phoenix since 2020, operates 24/7, according to the company's FAQs. So it follows that Cruise may not have to remain a vehicle of the night when it goes to Arizona, at least.

Cruise said it would share more updates on the times of day it will run its service in the near future.