Text: Eric Tipan / Photos: | posted March 16, 2016 08:40
GM to speed up autonomous car development by buying tech company
As more automakers go pedal-to-the-metal in developing autonomous vehicles, General Motors (GM) does not plan to get left behind eating everyone’s dust.
In a strategic more to catch up with its competitors, GM has announced that it is in the process of buying San Francisco self-driving car technology startup Cruise Automation for an amount that is reportedly a little over US$ 1 billion.
“Fully autonomous vehicles can bring our customers enormous benefits in terms of greater convenience, lower cost and improved safety for their daily mobility needs,” said GM President Dan Ammann.
Cruise Automation will be inserted as an independent unit working under GM’s Autonomous Vehicle Development Team led by Doug Parks, GM vice president of autonomous technology and vehicle execution.
Founded in 2013, Cruise Automation, in the last three years, has developed an autonomous driving system that can be purchased as an aftermarket kit to plug into models like the Audi A4 and S4 to give it autonomous driving capabilities on highways in California.
The kit was priced at US$10,000 and includes a roof-mounted sensor pod, a boot-installed slimline control computer, steering column motors, and an aluminium centre tunnel control dial.
Due to the recent development, it seems that all that technology will now be incorporated into the production of future GM models.
“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,” said Kyle Vogt, founder of Cruise Automation.
The full acquisition of Cruise Automation is expected to be complete by the second quarter of 2016 after all the necessary paperwork has been finalized.
“Cruise provides our company with a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry. We intend to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.