GM’s Cruise shows autonomous electric shuttle for production
Cruise, the General Motors subsidiary for autonomous vehicles, has revealed the production model of the Cruise Origin – an autonomous electric vehicle for ridesharing that offers space for six people and no steering wheel.
Cruise emphasises the fact that the Origin is a production model, not a concept vehicle. At the same time, the US company has given no details on when the model will be produced or about the vehicle’s e-drive.
The shuttle vehicle was developed in the course of a three-year project with the participation of General Motors, Cruise and Honda. The pod presented here is already the third generation of development. It has a modular design so that the rapidly advancing technology for an autonomous operation does not require the entire vehicle to be replaced, says Cruise CEO Dan Ammann.
The Origin is designed for driverless operation and therefore does not provide a position for the driver. Instead, up to six passengers sit opposite each other in a 3+3 seat configuration, with the developers having explicitly paid attention to providing plenty of legroom. The doors slide open to the side and, according to the developers, create enough space for two people to get in and out at the same time as providing for more safety for cyclists about “dooring”. A very low entry also makes the vehicle more inclusive for passengers of different abilities.
“We’re on track to crack the superhuman threshold in urban environments, and expect to be well past that threshold by the time the Cruise Origin enters production. We’re looking at safer roads on day one,” says cruise CEO Dan Ammann, summarising the key points of the new shuttle. In the video included below, the initiators demonstrate, among other things, the function of the sensors that act as the eyes of the vehicle and rotate in a similar way to the head of an owl so that the car can see what is happening around it. Inside, the Origin is equipped with airbags, “Start Ride” and SOS buttons and a roof camera.
In Germany and other locations, autonomous shuttles are already in use in pilot projects. In the USA, May Mobility has made particular progress with shuttle services (though they are not yet autonomous). Although May Mobility does not use Toyota shuttles, the Japanese vehicle manufacturing giant has bought stakes in the US firm, presumably because their shared service model seems to be working, and the model of service is as important as the vehicle itself – and similarly new territory for the transport industry.
While Cruise is keeping quiet when it comes to production plans, the US American company has indicated that another, extensive test phase will now be initiated: Shortly, the shuttle will be tested on a private campus. Up to now, the Origin has been used exclusively on closed factory premises at GM and Honda.