GM’s lead in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) grew even stronger during 2018 with the addition of powerful partnerships. First, the SoftBank Vision Fund announced a $2.25 billion investment in Cruise, accelerating our plans to commercialize AV technology at mass scale. Next, GM and Honda announced our plans to collaborate on the development of a purpose-built AV that can be manufactured at high volume for global deployment. Honda’s expertise in space-efficient design will help us create a vehicle unlike any the world has seen. We will also explore other ways to commercialize the Cruise platform, such as an autonomous ride-hailing network. Honda’s total commitment to these initiatives will be $2.75 billion over 12 years.
GM began assembling Cruise AVs at our Orion Assembly Plant in 2017, using our manufacturing scale and expertise to help Cruise quickly test and prototype its vehicles. With Honda on board, the path to production for Cruise AVs is even faster. Says Kyle Vogt, Cruise’s co-founder as well as its President and Chief Technology Officer, “The Honda partnership paves the way for massive scale.”
On January 1st, 2019, former GM President Dan Ammann became CEO of Cruise, GM’s majority-owned self-driving car subsidiary. He explains how Cruise is making rapid progress toward safe, all-electric self-driving cars.
In the simplest terms, we’re trying to build a driverless car that is safer, more secure and provides a better user experience at a lower cost than a human-driven car. But that simple problem statement turns out to be the biggest engineering challenge of our generation. We have a strong view on the necessary inputs to meet the challenge: engineering talent, capital and deep integration with an automaker. Cruise is the only company with all of those pieces.
Four applications that we see today are rideshare, delivery, data sharing and licensing. We have active business development going on in each of these areas. For example, we’re running an internal rideshare program for Cruise employees, which is giving us insight on running self-driving cars not just for development purposes but in a real ride-hailing context. On the delivery front, we recently announced a partnership with DoorDash for food delivery, which will further inform design and development. Within data and licensing, we are exploring opportunities such as sharing lane-level traffic data collected by AVs with logistics operators to further decrease congestion.
Safety is our only gating metric that will determine when we’re ready to launch in full driverless mode. The goal is not just to exceed human driver performance, but to continue to improve far beyond it. That’s why we’re doing almost all vehicle testing in downtown San Francisco, a highly complex environment. When our test vehicles are confronted daily with situations like unprotected left turns, construction zones, and plenty of cyclists and pedestrians, the vehicle is naturally going to learn more per mile of driving than if it were in a suburban environment.
We’ve fully changed over our fleet of cars fromthe second generation to the third generation. While these two cars look similar from the outside, under the skin they are very different. The third-gen cars have all layers of redundancy necessary to operate in full driverless mode. And they’re being built on GM assembly lines. Cruise remains the only self-driving car company that is building cars with all necessary technology and sensors, in automotive-grade fashion, straight from the plant. This integration has underpinned our strategy going back to GM’s original acquisition of Cruise, and we’re continually finding benefits to having all these capabilities under one roof.
Our focus is on enabling our growing team to safely do the best work of their lives and solve the greatest engineering challenge of our generation: a vehicle that’s safer, more convenient and less expensive than a human driver — and doing so at massive scale to have a similarly massive impact to the world. It’s a really exciting time.
In 2018, GM published its first self-driving safety report, explaining our approach to building safe vehicles from design through production and rapid improvement. It explains the technology that makes our vehicles work and how we address the 12 safety elements covered by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s voluntary guidance.
Leveraging more than 100 years of automotive experience, GM self-driving vehicles are manufactured with the same high-quality standards as the millions of other vehicles we build for our customers around the world each year. Using integrated hardware and software development and testing in one of the most complex environments in the world has helped GM create what we believe is the safest self-driving vehicle.
We also have joined Ford, Toyota and SAE International in forming the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium (AVSC), which will help advance testing and safety standards for self-driving vehicles. GM and our OEM peers have generations of experience developing and deploying safe vehicles and have a joint interest in ensuring that AVs and associated regulations are established with safety and reliability in mind.
“Safety is at the center of everything we do at General Motors, and that’s certainly the case with our development of self-driving technology,” says John Capp, GM Director of Global Vehicle Safety. “We are eager to bring our experience to this consortium and to collaborate with other like-minded companies, so we can realize the true benefits of this technology.”
Embracing the future of mobility includes alternative forms of transportation beyond individual automobile ownership. With ARĪV, GM’s new electric bike (eBike) brand, we are providing people an alternative form of transportation to help them move more freely through the congestion of a city. ARĪV’s two bikes, the Meld, a compact eBike, and the Merge, a folding eBike, are designed with urban commuters in mind, and help to create a world with zero emissions and zero congestion.
The ARĪV eBikes were designed at GM facilities in Michigan and Oshawa, Ontario, bringing together automotive-grade capabilities and GM’s extensive experience with electric vehicle motor software and controls. A proprietary motor was built from the ground up specifically for ARĪV eBikes, enabling speeds of up to 15.5 mph with four levels of pedal-assisted power.
Batteries were validated to rigorous safety standards similar to GM’s electric vehicle batteries. Riders can charge their ARĪV eBike’s battery in approximately 3.5 hours and receive up to 40 miles of ride time per charge.
ARĪV eBikes are also designed for safety, with integrated, rechargeable front and rear LED safety lights and oversized brake rotors to make it easy to come to a quick stop. The bikes connect via Bluetooth to an app that provides metrics such as speed, distance, remaining battery level, motor assist level, distance traveled and more. Riders can attach and even charge their smartphones from the eBikes while on the go.
The bikes will first hit the streets in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, where battery-powered eBikes are already popular. There, they will help reduce emissions and congestion by taking cars off the road, giving customers more freedom to move beyond the traditional vehicle.
Riders can charge their ARĪV eBike’s battery in approximately 3.5 hours and receive up to 40 miles of ride time per charge