Cruise: Driving the future of autonomous electric vehicles

The US-based autonomous vehicle company is developing all-electric autonomous vehicles that prioritise safety, sustainability and inclusivity

Founded in 2013 in San Francisco, US, Cruise fulfils CEO Kyle Vogt’s childhood dream of making self-driving cars a reality. Co-founded by Chief Product Officer Dan Kan, the company was acquired by General Motors in 2016 to bring more than a century of experience in designing and manufacturing vehicles to the autonomous vehicle (AV) effort.

Cruise has received $10B from well-respected companies and investors—including General Motors, Honda, Microsoft, T. Rowe Price, and Walmart—increasing its valuation 30x since being founded.

The Origin robotaxi — launched in early 2020 — is a bus-like vehicle built for the sole purpose of shuttling people around in a city autonomously.

In its first 15 months, Cruise AVs collectively drove one million driverless miles — a distance equivalent to more than 40 laps around the planet.

The fleet is all-electric, fuelled by electricity generated by solar panels, many in Californian farms as part of the Farm to Fleet programme that aims to bridge and boost transport and agriculture in the US, promoting renewable energy and increasing benefits for the companies. 

“The amount of development work to get from nothing to the level of performance to operate without a driver was enormous,” says Vogt.

“We still have a long way to go to generalise this, to make this work at massive scale everywhere. But the relative difficulty of that compared to doing the work that is already behind us is pretty small. And it’s do-able.

“We know what the bottlenecks are, like our mapping technology. If you told me tomorrow we needed to operate in 100 cities, we’d be in trouble. But we have a road map so that, by the time we are adding 20, 30 or 50 cities a year, the technology is there to support that.”

Boosting the community

In partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, Cruise is making cars that can be accessed independently by blind people, eliminating a critical accessibility barrier. 

During the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, Cruise repurposed its AV fleet to deliver meals to vulnerable people in the San Francisco area, alongside partnering with Walmart  on a self-driving delivery pilot in Arizona.

In partnership with nonprofits, the Cruise for Good programme is dedicated to providing at least 1% of the Cruise self-driving fleet to serving important community needs in every city, delivering meals and providing rides to vulnerable populations to build a more equitable transportation ecosystem.

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For more insights into Sustainability - check out the latest edition of EV Magazine 

Other magazines that may be of interest - Sustainability Magazine | Energy Digital

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