Self-driving start-up, Cruise, recently announced that they have delayed the roll-out of its autonomous ride-hailing service until 2020. The GM and Honda backed company is scaling up for large scale deployment in San Francisco by the next year.
Cruise CEO, Dan Ammann, said in a blog, “Everything we do at Cruise is based on our belief that safely deploying all-electric self-driving cars at scale will have a significant positive impact on the world. At the societal level, it can save millions of lives, reshape our cities, reduce emissions, give back billions of hours of time and restore freedom of movement for everyone. At the individual level, we believe it will deliver safer, more convenient, more affordable and more accessible transportation.”
The company believes that the benefits of self-driving cars will only be realised by deploying safely and at massive scale. Over the last four years, Cruise has hired over a thousand engineers, raised billions of dollars of capital, achieved deep integration with General Motors and focused our testing and development in the most complex urban environments.
Cruise has raised $7.25 billion from investors, including the SoftBank Vision Fund and T. Rowe Price as well as from its automotive partners at General Motors and Honda. The company has successfully scaled up from 40 employees in 2016 to around 1,500 today. They have been hiring key engineering and artificial intelligence/machine learning executives recently.
The deep association with GM gives Cruise a multi-year head start on the seamless integration of hardware and software and related safety validation benefits. Their self-driving cars that are manufactured on a large scale automotive assembly line to the same rigorous standards of safety and quality as any other production car.
In order to reach the level of performance and safety validation required to deploy a fully driverless service in San Francisco, Cruise will be significantly increasing their testing and validation miles over the balance of this year. While Cruise is already logging the most miles in a complex environment, having cars running many more miles on the road will further accelerate the rate of learning and safety validation. It will also give the company crucial operational learnings from running a larger scale fleet and a larger scale ride service, which we currently operate for our employees.
Expanding testing of what is already the world’s largest fleet of all-electric self-driving cars also means that Cruise will be investing in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in a very big way. Cruise already owns nearly 40% of all EV fast chargers in San Francisco, and now they are building the largest EV fast charger station in the country.
Cruise is well underway to creating the self-driving car of tomorrow, in partnership with GM and Honda. Hundreds of the best Honda, GM and Cruise engineers are working together on-site in Warren, Michigan, where they are deep into the vehicle development process. This new vehicle completely re-imagines from the ground up what a car can be.