Wednesday in San Francisco, California, GM’s Cruise autonomous car division unveiled the Origin self-driving mini bus. It has teased for weeks that this thing will be a move “beyond the car” and we’ve heard from sources within Cruise that there are plans to build between 50,000 and 100,000 units of this weird future shuttle.
By removing the steering wheel, the rearview mirror, the pedals, and more, we’re left with something simple: space. pic.twitter.com/K3tS0QxuSC— Cruise (@Cruise) January 22, 2020
There is very little information available on the Origin, but it is said to be “not a concept” and ready for delivery ASAP.
Cruise has said for a couple of years now that it wanted to build and market compact electric cars with no steering wheel or pedals, relying entirely on a slew of cameras and sensors paired with proprietary software to get people to and fro.
This lightly autonomous airport shuttle seems like it will fall into a very limited use case, relying on regular riders in big cities. Will it need to travel a set route within a geofenced area? Will it be allowed to deviate from the every day normal? This seems like Cruise has set out to make city bus drivers obsolete, which didn’t really seem like a problem that we, as a society, really worried about. Or maybe this is automating Uber Pool? What problem does Cruise actually solve with this?
Cruise CTO Kyle Vogt highlights the double sliding doors, saying they are safer for cyclists as they don't create the kind of bike lane obstacle that a swinging door does. pic.twitter.com/97GMOAVZmu— E.W. CYBERMEYER (@Tweetermeyer) January 22, 2020
OK, this is a very valid problem that double sliding doors solves for cyclists. I can dig it.
According to folks on the ground at the Origin’s unveiling, the vehicle is based on an all-new electric architecture, it is designed to cost less than the average electric SUV [I’m not sure if they mean less than an iPace/eTron, or if they mean less than a Mustang Mach-E, those are very different price points], and have a lifespan of over 1 million miles.
You may recall that Cruise posted a cryptic series of lat/long coordinates and we tried to decipher what it all meant.
Well, this afternoon Cruise posted the answer to its Twitter account.
Did you guess them all correctly? The answers are: compass, train, car, light bulb, radio, internet, computer, and mobile phone. We strive to have an impact at this scale as we drive life in our cities forward. Meet us here at 5pm to see what's beyond the car.— Cruise (@Cruise) January 21, 2020
Is the Cruise Origin as important as navigation, mass transit, private transportation, or the concept of communication? I’m tempted to say no, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.