cruise automation

GM confirmed today that it is acquiring the self-driving car startup Cruise Automation for an undisclosed amount. The company was founded in 2013 by Kyle Vogt who is best known for being one of the co-founder of the streaming website Twitch.

Cruise’s goal was to build self-driving technology that works on your existing car, which took the form of the sensor package RP-1 prototype (see picture above and video below).

We first reported on Cruise Automation last year when it managed to hire an early member and Senior Engineering Manager of Tesla’s Autopilot team, Andrew Gray.

Gray joined Cruise as Vice-President of Engineering in September last year, but interestingly, last month he updated his LinkedIn profile to indicate that he stopped working at the startup. It is not clear if the change has anything to do with GM’s acquisition of the company and if it simply means that he will now be working directly for the Detroit-based automaker.

Although GM confirmed that Cruise will operate as an independent unit within the recently formed Autonomous Vehicle Development Team led by Doug Parks, GM vice president of autonomous technology and vehicle execution. The team will be able to continue working from the San Francisco area.

Vogt commented on the acquisition in a press release:

“GM’s commitment to autonomous vehicles is inspiring, deliberate, and completely in line with our vision to make transportation safer and more accessible. We are excited to be partnering with GM and believe this is a ground-breaking and necessary step toward rapidly commercializing autonomous vehicle technology.”

GM executive vice president for Global Product Development Mark Reuss said that the company “intends to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team.”General Motors President Dan Ammann (right) with Cruise Automation co-founders Kyle Vogt (center) and Daniel Kan (left).

General Motors President Dan Ammann (right) with Cruise Automation co-founders Kyle Vogt (center) and Daniel Kan (left).

Until now, Cruise was focused on aftermarket solutions to self-driving technologies and although it wasn’t stated in the press release, we wouldn’t be surprised if that would change to a focus on direct integration into an intelligent chassis now that they are directly linked to a manufacturer.

The startup’s first prototype sensor suite included two stereo cameras, a 77 GHz radar and 10 axis inertial measurement units. In comparison, Tesla’s current Autopilot hardware suite includes a forward-looking camera, a radar, and 360 degree sonar sensors.

Here’s a quick video of the prototype:\

The Cruise acquisition is only the latest in a series of investments in new mobility projects for GM, including a $500 million investment in Lyft and its own new car-sharing service under a new “mobility brand” called “Maven”.

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