General Motors Co’s self-driving car unit, Cruise, on Tuesday unveiled Origin, a prototype electric vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals for use in its planned autonomous ride-sharing service.
The vehicle was developed with Honda Motor Co Ltd. which took a minority stake in Cruise in 2018 in an effort to catch up with rivals.
Cruise’s Chief Executive Officer, Dan Ammann, said the boxy vehicle about the size of a large SUV with sliding doors on each side will be used for the company’s own ride-hailing service, but did not say when the new competitor to Lyft and Uber Technologies would launch.
The Cruise Origin looks big. But in fact, it’s no bigger than your average car. It’s just more efficient, making full use of the space it takes up on the road.
The doors don’t hinge outward. They slide open. The entry is low to the ground, and three times larger than that of an average car — wide enough to make room for one person to step in while another person steps out.
Every seat is extra-legroom. And they all face each other, so you can have a conversation with family or friends.
The Cruise Origin is powered by a new, all-electric platform built by General Motors. It’s got what’s called redundancy, meaning there are no single points of failure across sensing, compute, networking, or power — because there’s no backup human driver.
Its multi-layered sensor suite is designed to keep track of multiple people and objects — even if they’re far away, in pitch-black, or hidden by rain or fog.
The Origin is also modular — which means it’s upgradeable and Cruise won’t have to roll out a new fleet each time the company builds a better sensor or computer.
Currently, Cruise is running fleets of its third-generation vehicles on the roads of San Francisco, operating a rideshare service that any Cruise employee can use, 24/7.
Every mile in San Francisco is packed full of rich information. Which means the Origin is learning about how people drive, how to maneuver in unusual circumstances, and how to react to situations that seem impossible to predict.
The Cruise Origin will have a lifespan of over 1 million miles — six times more than the average car. And since GM has committed to producing millions of electric vehicles, Cruise will build it for roughly half the cost of what a conventional electric SUV costs today.