Cruise, a self-driving carmaker, has unveiled its first autonomous vehicle – the Origin – and said it could be a look at ride-sharing fleets of the future.
The Origin was revealed in San Francisco after a six-month delay for more testing. Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors. However, the company said that the Origin is not meant for private ownership.
It said that the new vehicle will instead be a part of a prospective ride-sharing fleet. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said that drivers who abandon personal vehicles for a Cruise account could save $5,000 each year in related costs.
He said that Origin can last for one million miles. “It is self-driven. It is all-electric. It is shared. It is a production vehicle,” he said. Honda owns a 5.7 percent stake in Cruise. Venture capital firms have also invested in the company, which was valued at $19 billion a year ago.
California has allowed Cruise vehicles to be tested on public roads only if a human safety driver is aboard. Some competitors, including Waymo, Pony.ai, AutoX, and Zoox, have secured permits for driverless testing.
The driverless vehicle will have no pedals, no engine, and no steering wheel. The electric car instead relies on sensors and an electric motor to make its way around crowded cities. Origin can accommodate four passengers at a time.
A single customer will also be able to summon it for a ride just like with ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Officials said that the Cruise Origin will attempt to deliver on the company’s promise to provide a more environmentally-friendly ride-hailing service.
Rather than being a product people can buy, it will be an experience people share, a publicly accessible form of transport in cities to reduce emissions, Dan Ammann said. It looks like a cross between a mini-van and sports utility vehicle with one huge exception, it doesn’t have a steering wheel or brakes.
In the absence of conventional car features, Origin Cruise’s sensors, which follow a chosen route, keep track of multiple people and objects, even if they’re far away, in pitch-black or obscured by rain or fog. Cruise omitted some key details at the unveiling, including when its ride-hailing service will be available and how many of the vehicles will be in its fleet.
But Cruise is promising superhuman performance from the vehicle when rolled out, which GM hopes to manufacture at half the price of comparable vehicles using fuel-combustion engines. GM also expects to announce where the Origin will be made within the next few weeks, Amman said.