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GM's Cruise OK'd to test completely driverless cars in San Francisco

Detroit —Cruise LLC got the green light Thursday to test autonomous vehicles without a safety driver on the streets of San Francisco.

This permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles will allow Cruise — which is largely owned by General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co. and SoftBank — to test five completely driverless Chevrolet Bolt-based vehicles on certain streets streets in city. Cruise is the fifth company to receive a driverless testing permit in the state, and there are 60 companies permitted to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver.

"We’re not the first company to receive this permit, but we’re going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major U.S. city," Cruise CEO Dan Ammann wrote Thursday in a blog post. "Before the end of the year, we’ll be sending cars out onto the streets of SF — without gasoline and without anyone at the wheel. Because safely removing the driver is the true benchmark of a self-driving car, and because burning fossil fuels is no way to build the future of transportation."

GM plans to spend $20 billion on autonomous and electric vehicle technology through 2025. With Cruise, a commercial deployment for its driverless taxi service based on Chevrolet Bolts was planned for late 2019, but that was delayed as Cruise continued to work on making  "superhuman" autonomous vehicle technology.

Cruise and GM, in partnership with Honda are building the Cruise Origin, an autonomous electric shuttle that will be assembled at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

Cruise is also trying to get National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its 2018 application to deploy the fleet of vehicles without steering wheels or pedals.

Twitter: @bykaleahall