GM’s autonomous driving division, Cruise Automation, announced the launch of the beta version of its autonomous ride-sharing app currently being used by employees in San Francisco, where they operate a fleet of autonomous Chevy Bolt EV test vehicles.
The new service is called ‘Cruise Anywhere’ and the company claims that it is already becoming the primary mode of transport for some of its employees.
Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt said in an interview with Techcrunch:
“We’ve always said we’d launch first with a ride share application, and this is in line with that and just further evidence of that. We’re really excited about how the technology is evolving, and the rate at which it’s evolving. This is a manifestation of that – putting the app in people’s hands and having them use it for the first time and make AVs their primary form of transportation.”
Engineers are still required in the driver’s seat of all vehicles since it’s a test fleet, but Cruise’s significant fleet of test vehicles in San Francisco enables them to run the service 7 days a week between 16 and 24 hours a day.
In June, GM announced the completion of the first batch of 130 Chevy Bolt EV autonomous prototypes at its Orion Assembly Plant located in Orion Township, Michigan.
They released a demonstration video of the new app with the Bolt EV prototypes:
While GM remains open to work with other ride-sharing platforms, the automaker invested heavily in Lyft, they aim for Cruise Anywhere to stand on its own.
GM purchased the startup for ~$1 billion last year. Tesla wasn’t impressed by the company which it called ‘little more than demoware’, but despite what they might think, the startup seems to be making progress recently. In February, they released an impressive real-world self-driving demo of their Bolt EV prototype and they kept releasing new test drive videos.
The latest featured an impressive night drive during which a self-driving Chevy Bolt EV prototype even slowed down for a raccoon.
Cruise is not disclosing any timeline to open the service to the public yet.
Alphabet’s Waymo also started a similar test program with members of the public in Phoenix earlier this year and Tesla is planning a similar service called ‘Tesla Network’ with its existing fleet.