GM Steps Up it’s Driverless Car Game
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) has announced that, it is acquiring Cruise Automation to add Cruise’s deep software talent and rapid development capability to further accelerate GM’s development of autonomous vehicle technology. San Francisco-based startup, Cruise Automation is best known for its software that gave autopilot capabilities to conventional cars.
Founded in 2013, Cruise has been successful in adapting conventional cars to operate on highways with self-driving features. The company installs sensors, computer equipment and other devices that can control steering, braking and acceleration. About a year and a half ago, the company switched its focus to fully driverless technology. Cruise Automation founder, MIT-dropout Kyle Vogt called GM’s commitment to autonomous vehicles “inspiring, deliberate, and completely in line with our vision to make transportation safer and more accessible.” The partnership with a giant automaker is a necessary step toward rapidly commercializing autonomous vehicle technology, he said.
The acquisition of Cruise is GM’s latest step toward its goal of redefining the future of personal mobility. Since the beginning of the year, GM invested $500 million in ride-hailing company Lyft, to create self-driving cars and car rental hubs for Lyft drivers in the U.S.; formed Maven car-sharing service, which allows users to reserve and unlock vehicles with their smartphone.
GM has positioned the Lyft investment as a way to get self-driving cabs on the road more quickly, and it seems that the Cruise deal is closely aligned with that goal. “We’ve been really clear that we see the first large-scale deployment of autonomous vehicles being into a ride-share type of car, so we think that’s the right first application,” says GM President Dan Amman.
According to the recent McKinsey report,driverless cars will make up 15 percent of the global automotive market by 2030. As both of these technologies have matured, their potential combination has become an alluring prospect: the end of car ownership, replaced by a circulating fleet of driverless cars, waiting to be summoned by a smartphone request.
Google has been working on their, driverless car. Google Inc. plans to make its self-driving cars unit, which will offer rides for hire, a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc Inc. corporate umbrella next year. In the meantime, Uber is spending some of the more than $10 billion it has raised in private markets to develop self-driving cars. Apple is not about to be left behind. The company has stated that it plans to have its first car done by 2019.