GM debuts autonomous auto without a steering wheel

Marco Green
January 23, 2020

It features a clean electric drive system and, company officials said, they expect it will cost a typical San Francisco resident about $5,000 less a year to ride in a Cruise Origin than to own and operate a traditional vehicle. And the Cruise Origin will be utilized so much more of the time than vehicles with personal ownership. However, current regulations do not allow passenger cars on the road without human controls, so GM was forced to put its Robotaxi Bolt launch on hold, at least temporarily. Cruise got a new CEO, Dan Ammann late previous year. As long as no one beats Cruise to it.

In a blog post, the company's CEO Dan Ammann detailed the vision behind the vehicle, saying: "We wanted to reimagine transportation as if the auto had never existed". The company estimates it'll save you $5,000 a year to ride around in this vehicle compared to own your auto.

The vehicle itself is owned by Cruise, but you can summon or schedule the Origin pod 24/7 using the Cruise App.

Four years ago, self-driving hype reached a fever pitch. Carmakers struck partnerships with technology companies nearly every week. Startups raised piles of funding at high valuations.

That year, GM plunked down almost US$1 billion to acquire a 40-person startup in San Francisco called Cruise.

"GM's largely go-it alone approach to addressing the AV challenge is different from others, who have more widely embraced collaboration/partnership", notes Levy.

But hype hit reality when testing data made it clear that it would take many more years for self-driving technology to be ready for widespread adoption.

"This is the end of the human-driver gasoline-powered single-occupant auto", Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said at a big reveal party in San Francisco Tuesday night. A room full of "Cruisers", the company's term for its employees, cheered them on.

It looks like a cross between a mini-van and sports utility vehicle with one huge exception - it won't have any steering wheel or brakes.

Meanwhile, Origin comfortably seats up to six people in its spacious interior.

Another thing that's going to save Cruise money is that the body (mostly steel and aluminum) is created to last many generations of sensor technology-so there's no need to roll out a new fleet with each iteration. Alphabet Inc's Waymo is the only company that has received permission to test without a driver.

The auto is estimated to be in the US$300,000 to US$400,000 ballpark right now - technology is definitely not cheap in its early days - but Cruise said with GM's intentions to build "millions of electric vehicles", it will be "roughly half the cost of what a conventional electric SUV costs today" when it's in full production.

Cruise is also yet to say anything about the range of the Origin, or what size its battery is and how quickly it can be charged.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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