Will we welcome our robot overlords if they bring us some Chipotle or Jack in the Box? Food delivery startup DoorDash is betting that we will. DoorDash announced earlier today that it’s teaming up with General Motors’ autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise to deliver your carry-out eats in a pilot program that will initially operate only here in San Francisco.
— DoorDash (@DoorDash) January 3, 2019
“Starting in March 2019, DoorDash and Cruise will test the first food deliveries using autonomous vehicles in San Francisco,” DoorDash special projects operations lead Penn Daniel says in a company blog post from this morning. “We’re kicking off our pilot in San Francisco, a complex and intricate city where Cruise has been testing vehicles for the past three years.”
San Francisco makes sense for this pilot program, since Cruise is based here in the city. Cruise does indeed have a permit to operate driverless cars in California under the state’s current autonomous vehicle regulations. But they’ve also had at least three dozen accidents here in San Francisco since launching, according to DMV data. This begs the question of whether self-driving car technology is being rushed to market before it has proven its safety and efficacy.
“This is not ready for prime time,” chief innovation officer Mark Rosekind of Zoox, a competing autonomous vehicle firm, told the Examiner last year.
But the ethic of moving fast and breaking thing applies quite literally to the self-driving car industry. GM Cruise and DoorDash may have worked out every detail for safe autonomous vehicle operation. But if you’re convinced that these tech firms would never tolerate loss of human life, remember this is the same DoorDash that pocketed a $535 million investment from the brutal regime of the Saudi Arabian royal family.