Driverless rideshare company tests cars in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — A company that makes driverless rideshare vehicles is testing its cars in Charlotte.

Cruise, an all-electric, driverless car company, started testing on Tuesday. The company’s goal is to learn local roads and riding behaviors.

The company said while you may see their cars around the city, they won’t be driverless yet.

Channel 9 spotted one of the vehicles already in the Queen City’s Elizabeth neighborhood and another in Uptown Charlotte. Both had drivers behind the wheel.

Cruise said they’re testing throughout Charlotte, including parts of Myers Park, Uptown, South End and Plaza Midwood.

How it works

Cruise’s vehicles have about 40 sensors that include cameras, lidar and radar. The sensors send that data to the artificial intelligence that runs the cars, allowing it to make “real-time predictions on what’s happening, the behavior of nearby road users and pedestrians in order to determine the best and safest action to take.”

As for calling a ride, a user requests a car on the app and it can pick you up from where you are.

“While this is a new category of transportation and a completely new experience, the experience feels very human– it is smooth, safe and entirely your own space within the car,” the company said.

A spokesperson for Cruise said its goal is “to improve road safety, reduce emissions, and reduce congestion through driverless ride-hail and delivery.”

Cruise was founded in 2013.


Already, Cruise has faced issued with its cars.

The company has nearly 400 all-electric vehicles and offers “driverless ridehail services” for people living in San Francisco, Austin, and Phoenix.

In San Francisco, 10 of the cars stalled all at once last week and created gridlock for 20 minutes. The company blamed connectivity issues.

There’s no timeline for when the vehicles may go fully autonomous in Charlotte, but resident Rajhan Smith is expecting some hiccups.

“If cell phones can malfunction, if computers can malfunction, then a car will malfunction,” Smith said.

The City of Charlotte told Channel 9′s Joe Bruno that Cruise did give them a heads up that they would start testing in Charlotte. The city also said that Cruise will not need city council’s blessing to go fully driverless because the state regulates this.

A spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The testing will last until Aug. 19.

(WATCH BELOW: City of Charlotte transitioning fleet to electric vehicles)