In yet another sign that driverless cars are just over the horizon, General Motors announced today that the company is buying Cruise Automation — a Silicon Valley start-up that's developing autonomous vehicle technology. According to Fortune, the deal cost GM over $US1 billion in cash and stocks. GM hasn't been shy about dipping its tyre iron into a diverse number of car-related fields that aren't typically associated with the big automakers. As the Wall Street Journal notes, GM has invested $US500 million in Lyft, Uber's fat kid down the street who just wants to watch you guys play. They also scavenged some of the remaining bits of Sidecar before that "ride-sharing" service tanked.
The purchase of San Francisco-based Cruise Automation, which has to this point been running on $US20 million of venture capital funds, shows that the big automakers are serious about the future of driverless cars. Notably, Cruise Automation brings with it one of just a few permits issued by the State of California to test driverless cars on California streets.
We've been promised driverless cars for literally decades — especially from GM. But this time it looks like we're going to get them for realsies. We've been tricked before. But with so many car companies putting down cold hard cash for automated vehicle tech, our driverless car future feels closer than ever.
Screenshot from the 1956 General Motors driverless car film "Key to the Future"