By on March 11, 2016

General Motors #AMERICA

General Motors wants you to have more texting time in your car, and it’s dropping a lot of cash to see that it happens.

The company announced Friday that it will purchase San Francisco-based Cruise Automation in order to access and advance its self-driving vehicle technology, a buy worth upwards of $1 billion, Fortune reports.

The three-year-old startup has been busy gathering investor capital to develop and push aftermarket kits designed to turn regular vehicles into autonomous cars.

The dollar figure of the deal hasn’t been confirmed by GM, but it is known that Cruise will operate as an independent unit within GM’s Autonomous Vehicle Development Team, which has its own proving ground dedicated to self-driving technology. That team is lead by Gord Parks, and is also based in San Francisco.

“Cruise provides our company with a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, in a statement.

“We intend to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team.”

Cruise Automation founder Kyle Vogh, now freed from the hassle of raising capital, called the purchase a “necessary step toward rapidly commercializing autonomous vehicle technology.”

The team at Cruise, working alongside the GM team, would give the automaker the talent boost it needs to compete with the self-driving technology being developed by Google and Apple. Beginning in 2014, GM has been working on a semi-autonomous system dubbed “Super Cruise” for use in the 2017 Cadillac CT6, but that system could soon resemble a hand-cranked starter once self-driving technology takes off.

Earlier this year, GM sank $500 million into the ride-sharing service Lyft in the hopes of partnering on an autonomous venture sometime in the future.

The only fully-autonomous vehicles on the road right now are involved in pilot projects in select locales, but work on the regulatory front is progressing.

In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration admitted in response to a letter from Chris Urmson, director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, that the artificial intelligence controlling an autonomous car could officially be considered the driver of the car, and not the human occupant.

The self-driving system would only be considered the driver if the human occupant had no way of controlling the vehicle’s movements — in other words, if the vehicle had no pedals or steering wheel that could be manipulated by a human.

Despite lending more clarity to the disputed term “driver,” the letter said that certain exemptions would still be needed for autonomous vehicles to operate under existing regulations.

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21 Comments on “GM is Spending a Lot of Cash so You Don’t Have to Drive...”


  • avatar
    Rday

    Don’t believe anything i hear about GM and only half what i can see. These clowns have little regard for their customer’s well being and will use any BS or misleading information to convince the public otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” little regard for their customer’s well being and will use any BS or misleading information to convince the public otherwise.”

      I think that is changing under Ms. Barra. I believe that she has done more to change the “GM culture” in the short time she’s been there than all her predecessors combined.

      I’m no longer a GM fan but I can appreciate the change Ms Barra is trying to effect at GM.

      For me it now is “all Toyota, all the time.” No surprises. No drama. Just consistently high quality, long lasting durable vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      You do realize that “customer” includes “mom” and “teenage daughter” and “husband,” right?

      It’s a lot of fun to characterize a company as mustache twirling evil, but these folks aren’t murderous. They and their families drive what they design and build, just like Toyota. I doubt they’re out to kill mom.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      According to state law, a driver must pass driving test and driving skill test. Can GM’s computer pass those?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      GM has actually been dedicating all their efforts toward this objective over several decades… and the result? Millions of former GM owners don’t want to ever drive a GM car again, so they have already achieved their goal.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    We got some issues when so many people prefer to text and miss out on the enjoyment of driving a vehicle

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      There is no enjoyment to be had from slogging a Honda CR-V in stop & go traffic. After having rented a Kia Soul after having owned and driven a long string of fun to drive cars and motorcycles, “I get it now”. Average car is a soul sucking appliance that makes autonomous cars look like a pipe dream.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        So don’t buy soul sucking cars. Buy fun-to-drive cars. Who is stopping you, Obama?

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I do, but most people don’t, because they don’t care about having fun driving or do much driving in fun environments. From that point of view, again, autonomous cars would be a god send. I’m fortunate in that I can take back roads to commute, but most people can’t. If 99% of your driving is slogging in traffic what difference does it make what car you drive?

  • avatar
    Snowshoeman

    Not unexpected that GM would want to acquire Cruise and maybe gain a few years of development over the competition. Makes you wonder where the industry will be in 10-20 years. Will GM, Ford, FCA etc. just manufacture vehicles for their car-sharing fleets (Maven, Lyft or similar brand) and everyone has a monthly subscription for access to a self-driving car that picks you up like a taxi 24/7? The OEMs could become a taxi service with self-driving cars with a manufacturing division attached to it. The NA market is for all intents and purposes saturated and the OEMs fight back and forth to gain each other’s market share. Nothing bothers the auto manufactures than someone that is driving around in a paid off vehicle. The untapped market are people who keep their vehicles for years after they are done their payments. Essentially everyone would pay a monthly subscription, a dream for the OEMs.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    What happens when the autonomous cars get recalled? Can they drive themselves to the dealerships (if there are dealerships) for repairs? Then again, I suppose all recalls would be in the form of software updates that could be installed at home. Unless of course, you live in a state like I do that has terrible (to put it mildly) internet access.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      If it’s a critical sensor that’s being recalled, it won’t take a chance and will park itself. Hopefully, you’re not miles from home when it happens or have another way to work. One example might be the discovery of bad bearings in a particular model of rotating lidar scanner (if they’re still using them at that point). So, every lidar scanner on the car would be at risk of a possible bearing failure including any backups. You can bet they won’t let any of the cars covered by the recall drive anywhere.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “The three-year-old startup has been busy gathering investor capital to develop and push aftermarket kits designed to turn regular vehicles into autonomous cars.”

    I can trust the aftermarket or a dealer to put a landau and labels on my Town Car to make it a Palm Beach Congressional Town Sedan.

    I can’t trust the aftermarket to turn my manual car into an autonomous one. My life is in their hands then.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I’m becoming more of a fan of autonomous cars every day. This has a lot to do with my personal medical situation as I age.
    First a little background. Last June I woke to find my left eye was blurry with a big floater in the center of my vision. I am mildly nearsighted, but my multi-focal contact did not help at all in the left eye.
    I did what any normal, non hypochondriac male would do – waited two days for it to pass. When it didn’t I made an appointment with my ophthalmologist who declared that I had three tears in my retina in the left eye. ( This happened in my sleep) He made an appointment with the local retina specialist for the next day. Much to my surprise, he performed a procedure to fix the tears with a “cryo wand” during that visit. It worked, but I ended up having to change the prescription for that eye.
    He also informed me that I had the early stages of age related macular degeneration in both eyes. This is completely unrelated to the retinal tear and has no treatment. However, it is a common condition as you age.
    My father suffered from this and stopped driving in his late 70s because of it. I always blamed it on his type 2 diabetes. The condition proceeds at different rates for everyone. I may die long before it becomes problematic to drive, but it’s unpredictable.
    For this reason, having an autonomous car 10 years out would be a great help if macular degeneration speeds up to the point where I can’t see well enough to drive. These articles give me some peace of mind that may be the case.

  • avatar
    swester

    The future is at hand, folks. I’m pretty darn excited.

    As for driving enthusiasts (like myself), I see this as the beginning of an era when you won’t have to compete on roads with incompetent, dangerous human drivers. Only those who ENJOY driving will be doing so.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    “WARNING ! WARNING ! OBJECT AHEAD ! OBJECT AHEAD ! UNABLE TO AVOID ! UNABLE TO AVOID ! COLLISION ALERT ! WARNING ! ANY VOCALIZATION AT THIS TIME CONSTITUTES ACCEPTANCE OF OUR REVISED TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE AND FULL WAIVER OF LIABILITY ! WARNING ! WARNING !…

  • avatar
    ixim

    GM’s gotta do what its gotta do. To survive. Me, I love driving; even in my Equinox. But I used to belong to a five man carpool. Saved money. I could sleep during the commute four out of five days. With A/V’s now all five could snooze every day? Would there be maxipods for such groups? For sure there’ll be auto versions of the Mile High Club. Also for sure, there’ll be growing restrictions on operating a personal vehicle in my beloved NYC. Last week, I went to a show on West 30th Street. Parking is legal there from 7pm. There were many open parking spots right across the street. Had a great time. A pod would have made it easy to have some drinks after the show and get home safely. Just no driving fun. That night. Hey, until 100 years ago, nobody drove much. I’d miss it, but the next generations? Maybe their history teachers will mention it in passing.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    OK, so GM is buying into a ride-share company (Lyft)instead of owning part of a rental car company (Avis) and is also buying a high-tech self-driving automobile start-up (Cruise Automation) because they’ve done so well in the past with (EDS)high-tech electronics. Different place cards; the meal will still be disastrous.

  • avatar

    A ridiculous waste of money. If you want to be driven, take public transportation. A cab when you need to. Lot cheaper than buying one of these silly cars.


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