Is there a new ride-hailing app in town?

It appears self-driving car company Cruise Automation is getting into the ride-hailing game.

In a move that signals it intends to compete with Uber and Lyft in the Bay Area, Cruise is testing an app in San Francisco that lets users request rides from self-driving car, a GM spokesman confirmed.

Cruise, an autonomous vehicle company bought by GM last year, is letting employees use the new app to order rides in self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EVs from their homes to the Cruise office in San Francisco.

“This is part of our overall autonomous testing that’s going on in San Francisco as we prepare to launch (an) autonomous on demand ride sharing network in the future,” GM spokesman Kevin Kelly wrote in an email to SiliconBeat.

Fortune reported the pilot Wednesday.

A GM spokesman told Fortune the pilot began a few months ago.

That could mean bad news for Uber and Lyft, both of which have their own self-driving dreams, and which have long enjoyed the perks of being the only two major ride-hailing apps in the Bay Area.

The new competition could mean more bad news on top of what already has been a rough few weeks for Uber, which for the first time fell behind much-smaller rival Lyft in the Apple App Store last week after Uber users deleted their accounts in droves in protest over how Uber handled a New York taxi strike, and over CEO Travis Kalanick’s ties to President Donald Trump. The backlash grew so intense that Kalanick finally resigned from Trump’s business advisory council last week.

And Cruise has something going for it that Uber did not. Cruise has permission from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving cars on the state’s public roads, meaning the company won’t face the same catastrophe Uber’s self-driving car pilot program faced when it launched in San Francisco in December without a permit.

Fortune says GM’s fleet of self-driving cars is growing — it had 30 in October, and now is testing more than 40 in San Francisco, Scottsdale, Arizona and Detroit.

Photo: General Motors President Dan Ammann, right, with Cruise Automation co-founders Kyle Vogt, center, and Daniel Kan, left. (Courtesy of GM)

 

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