General Motor autonomous vehicles subsidiary, Cruise, revealed its first vehicle to operate without a human driver, the Cruise Origin. The all-electric shuttle is designed to be more spacious and ready for ride-hailing services.
Cruise Chief Executive Officer Dan Ammann said Tuesday at an event in San Francisco that the new vehicle lacks traditional controls like pedals and a steering wheel.
“It’s not an improvement on the car. It’s completely different,” Ammann added, explaining that it is not a product you buy. It’s an experience.
Although Cruise Origin looks big, it is no bigger than your average car. It features sliding doors, three times larger entry than that of an average car, and extra-legroom for every seat.
However, the debut did not specify when would the Cruise Origin be available. Yet, it sheds the light on the future of commuting, which looks like it would be an electric ride-hailing competition between Uber, Lyft, Google’s Waymo and Cruise.
According to Ammann Cruise improves safety by removing the human driver, reduce emissions by being all-electric, and reduce congestion through making shared rides more compelling by providing an awesome experience at a radically lower cost.
What remains is the regulatory approvals, Cruise is still in talks with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a waiver to be able to deploy autonomous vehicles on the roads.
Currently, the company operates a ride service for its employees in San Francisco that have self-driving cars with safety drivers behind the wheel. Ammann revealed that the company could start ride-hailing service, even before the driverless prototype vehicle is ready.
He expects prototypes to be tested at private facilities this year and forecast the production cost of an Origin could be half that of a high-end electric sports-utility vehicle (SUV).
Cruise is not fully owned by GM, also the Japanese automaker Honda owns about one-third of the company. In October 2018, Honda announced its plan to invest $2.75 billion in Cruise for over 12 years.