SAN FRANCISCO—Cruise, General Motors' self-driving vehicle unit, revealed its first vehicle that can drive without an operator and unveiled plans for a new service to compete in the ride-hailing space.
The Cruise Origin, developed with Honda Motor Co., is designed with more space for passengers, and the driverless taxi will give ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft another rival, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said Jan. 22 during the vehicle's introduction.
GM is also an investor in Lyft.
The third-generation Cruise vehicle will be used first to launch the ride-hailing service, but Ammann would not provide details on timing of the rollout.
Since GM acquired Cruise, the company has worked on integrating self-driving technology into self-driving vehicles it plans to use for initial deployment.
And since Honda became an investor in October 2018, Cruise has moved more quickly to develop a self-driving, EV platform, spokesman Ray Wert said.
Ammann declined to comment on when the Origin would launch on public roads, but he said Cruise will begin testing the shuttles on private campuses in the near future.
The Origin has an all-new electric platform built by GM and doesn't require a backup driver or steering wheel. Honda contributed to the engineering and production of the vehicle.
Ammann would not disclose the mileage range of the Origin, but said the vehicle can reach highway speed.
Ammann has advocated sweeping changes in the way people move about, most recently with a blog post in December.
"It is our mission to improve safety by removing the human driver, reduce emissions by being all-electric, and reduce congestion through making shared rides more compelling by providing an awesome experience at a radically lower cost," he said. "Only then will we truly move beyond the car to the transportation system that we deserve—one that is safer, more affordable, and better for us, for our cities, and for our planet."
In November 2017, GM outlined a plan to launch a public ride-hailing service using self-driving vehicles in highly-populated urban areas with no driver on board.
The following January, Cruise petitioned for exemptions from the Federal Motor Vehicle safety standards that would allow Cruise to test vehicles without manual controls, such as steering wheels and pedals. In March 2019, the Department of Transportation called for public comment on the petition.
The exemption, if approved, would allow GM to deploy as many as 2,500 self-driving taxis per year that could be requested via a smartphone app.
Cruise missed its 2019 launch goal. In July 2019, Cruise delayed plans to deploy self-driving vehicles by the end of the year. The company wasn't yet prepared to validate vehicle performance and safety.
Cruise has raised $7.25 billion from investors including Honda, Japan's SoftBank Vision Fund and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. Those investments have given Cruise a value of $19 billion.