Driverless transport just took another leap forward. Cruise has launched the Origin; a ride-sharing vehicle which is production-ready
This new vehicle has been produced in collaboration between Cruise, their parent company GM, and Honda. Cruise calls this ‘the engineering challenge of a generation‘.
Driverless vehicles are certainly having a moment. Hyundai and Uber announced their own plans earlier this month at CES.
Interestingly, their concept shares similarities. The Uber Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) is also a multi-passenger ride-sharing car. These are more like trams than cars, with services such as coffee shops onboard. The concept of PBVs is that they dock at a central Hub, which also supports Personal Air Vehicles (PAVs).
However exciting the Uber concept is, the reality is that it is nowhere near being used. The idea is purely a concept and would take a huge amount on infrastructure planning to be implemented.
The Cruise Origin is not a concept, it is a production-ready design. It won’t be seen on the roads yet though since it does not have US Federal approval to be used in public.
For now, Origin cars will be used in private spaces such as the company campuses.
These cars are designed to be low cost and to operate for one million miles. At last nights launch, CEO Dan Ammann explained:
We’ve been just as obsessed with making the Origin experience as inexpensive as possible. Because if we’re really serious about improving life, and our cities, we need huge numbers of people to use the Cruise origin. And that won’t happen unless we deliver on a very simple proposition, a better experience at a lower price than what you pay to get around today
We don’t yet know exactly what the price tag will be. Origins will be manufactured by GM and will cost ‘roughly half of a conventional electric SUV’.
The company says that they will ‘be able to cut up to $5,000 in transportation costs per San Francisco household, per year‘.
Of course, the big question around driverless cars is safety. It sounds like Cruise has made this a top priority. With accidents and some terrible tragedies caused by this tech, making it safe is critical.
Origins have an ‘owl’ hybrid sensor. These combine cameras and radars which are essential since the car is designed to travel at highway speeds. The doors slide open rather than hinging, which improves safety for bike riders who might be in adjacent cycle lanes.
There are no pedals or steering wheels inside. Initially, this made me pause, thinking about the lack of a safety override but then considering this is designed as a public ‘taxi’ service, it begins to make more sense!
The Origins look a bit like a train inside and include gadgets such as USB ports and digital displays.
When will Origins launch?
We don’t yet know exactly what Cruise Origins will cost, or when the first fleet will be manufactured. However, this looks the closest thing to getting a new concept of a driverless car into final production.
Would you hail a riderless cab? Do you think Cruise has done enough to address safety concerns over autonomous vehicles? Let us know what you think!