Daily Management Review

Driverless Vehicle For Its Ride-Sharing Service Unveiled By GM’s Cruise


Driverless Vehicle For Its Ride-Sharing Service Unveiled By GM’s Cruise
A prototype of a planned autonomous electric vehicle was unveiled by the self-driving car unit of General Motors – Cruise on Tuesday.
The company said that this model, which does not have steering wheel or pedals, will be used in the proposed autonomous ride-sharing service. The company however did not say anything about when formal production of this car will begin.
Gm has developed this new vehicle – nick named "Cruise Origin", in partnership with Japan’s Honda Motor Co Ltd. A minority stake in Cruise in 2018 had been taken by the Japanese auto company as a part of its plans for matching up with the rivals of the company in the process of development of a technology that requires huge investments but is froth with risks. Additionally, there are no market ready products.
The boxy vehicle with sliding doors will be used for the company's own ride-hailing service, said Cruise's Chief Executive Officer, Dan Ammann.
However he did not say anything about when this new driverless ride hailing business unit would start operations. It is expected that this new business of GM will rivals the likes of Lyft and Uber. But a green signal from the regulators of the United States allowing it to operate cars that do not have any human control will be required to be obtained by the company. Earlier the company had scuttled a plan to launch a robotaxi service by the end of 2019.
This business unit of GM had raised $1.15 billion in a round of investment in May in which the unit achieved a market value of $19 billion.
Even though global auto companies as well as a number of startups and even some tech companies are striving to develop technologies for self driving vehicles, this type of vehicle are yet to gain wider acceptance among consumers because of a number of accidents and crashes involving such driverless vehicles. Those incidents have cast a shadow on the practical usability of the technology and raised questions about the readiness of such vehicles on public roads.
“We're obviously still working on something that's never been done before. So the time lines given aren't completely certain, but we're moving really quickly,” Ammann told reporters following the event.
A ride service for its employees in San Francisco that already has self-driving cars with safety drivers behind the wheel is currently operated by Cruise. Most of the 180 test cars of Cruise operate in San Francisco. Those vehicles could be put to use by the company for starting a commercial ride sharing service until such time that it manages to develop the driverless prototype vehicle, Ammann said.
Ammann said that he was still negotiating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for obtaining a waiver to enable the company to deploy vehicles without human controls on the roads, even though he said that the Cruise Origin was a "fully engineered vehicle that's on its way to production".