You may not yet get around in a flying car like the Jetsons, but you can get into a car that drives itself; something that seemed only science fiction until recently.
Currently, several shared transport companies have emerged that are already offering services to the public. One of those companies is Cruise, and it is positioning itself at the forefront of self-driving transportation. Here’s what you need to know about Cruise and its self-driving car service.
What is a cruise?
Cruise is an autonomous transportation service based in San Francisco, California. The company was established in 2013 by co-founders Kyle Vogt and Dan Kan, who still run the company today.
Unlike their rideshare counterparts, Uber and Lyft, Cruise cars don’t have a person in the driver’s seat. According to Cruise’s LinkedIn pageits mission is to build “the world’s most advanced autonomous vehicles to safely connect people with the places, things and experiences that matter to them.”
Cruise partnership with General Motors and Honda
You probably recognize the names General Motors (GM) and Honda. Automotive giants are responsible for creating many of the iconic mainstream cars you see on the road today. Along with Cruise, GM and Honda are turning their attention to the future of transportation beyond human-driven cars.
According to GM, the automaker acquired Cruise in 2016, and Honda joined in 2018 to help finance and develop a purpose-built autonomous vehicle. GM and Honda have already invested several billion dollars in the Cruise operation. In return, this partnership has allowed Cruise to scale its manufacturing capabilities and draw on nearly a century of automotive manufacturing expertise.
Early examples of Cruise’s autonomous vehicles are based on modified Chevy Bolts. While the vehicle looks like a normal Bolt, it is equipped with various technologies such as LiDAR, radar, and cameras to enable driverless operation. See our breakdown of how self-driving cars know where they are and what LiDAR is for more information.
How does the cruise work?
It may surprise you to learn that using a driverless car is relatively easy; at least for a rider. Creating a car that can drive itself is another story. As a passenger, the experience of calling an autonomous vehicle is similar to using Uber or Lyft.
According to Cruise tours page, passengers must first register to join the company’s waitlist so that you can send an invitation code to activate the application. The robotaxi company says it’s an invite-only service for now until more cars become available. Upon downloading the app, passengers are prompted to create an account or sign in to their existing account.
After adding payment information, passengers are prompted to add their destination. Riders then wait at their pickup location until the self-drive car arrives. Depending on the location, the vehicle may need to find an alternative collection point nearby and will then send instructions on where to meet you. A passenger’s phone is then used to unlock the car and then the journey can begin.
Where can you use Cruise?
So you know a bit about Cruise and how to use it, but where can you use it? Unfortunately, the service area for using Cruise is limited to select locations in the United States.
According to CBS News, Cruise currently operates in the northwest third of San Francisco, California. The city’s dense and complex urban layout serves as an ideal testing ground for self-driving cars to learn how to operate.
Initially, the service was free and limited to night hours for public users. Starting in June this year, the company began charging customers for self-driving car rides. CEO Kyle Vogt recently tweeted that Cruise has started offering self-drive rides during the day in San Francisco and will be rolling out to the public soon.
Vogt also announced via Twitter the ride-sharing service would expand to Austin, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona sometime this year, but it has not included details on the specific areas in those cities where the service will be available.
Is Cruise safe to use?
There are several elements to consider when evaluating the safety of using Cruise. The first is the vehicle itself. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationThe Chevy Bolt has received a five-star overall safety rating for every model year since 2018. The standard Bolt features several automated vehicle safety technologies, including automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, and lane-departure warning. .
Second, the autonomous technology used to operate Cruise’s self-driving cars goes beyond the standard safety features of the Chevy Bolt. Cruise says that each car has a 360-degree field of view at all times and can calculate its current and future path of itself and others 10 times per second. In addition, Cruise’s safety systems are designed with end-to-end redundancy that allows each vehicle to detect system failures and come to a safe stop in an instant.
Lastly, consider yourself. As the driver, he may be the only human in the car, but there are still things you can do to make sure your trip is safe. We’ve compiled a list of strategies to keep you safe when using a rideshare service, which can also be useful for a stand-alone service like Cruise. For example, an easy tip is to wear your seat belt at all times.
Cruise boasts of having completed almost 250,000 simulations before releasing a product update. That’s great. But, as of 2021, the NHTSA claims it began requiring manufacturers and operators of automated driving systems to report accidents to the agency. External monitoring will continue to evolve to ensure passenger safety is guaranteed and protected.
What does the future of cruising look like?
As Cruise works to expand into new cities in the United States, it’s already working on its next generation of vehicles. In 2020, featured cruise its first purpose-built autonomous vehicle called Origin. Although not much bigger than a traditional car, the Cruise Origin does away with all the traditional components of a car, such as the steering wheel and dashboard.
According to the self-driving carmaker, the Origin was designed to maximize passenger space and make accessibility universal for all passengers with its low point of entry. According to The Detroit Officethe Cruise Origin will hit the streets in January 2023.
In 2021, Cruise announced that it had signed an agreement with the Dubai Highways and Transport Authority to be an exclusive provider of autonomous taxis and ride-sharing services from 2023 to 2029 (for CNBC).
Beyond that, the company is working to reduce the cost per mile to less than $2 through manufacturing improvements and a million-mile vehicle life (per Forbes).
Cruise is improving transportation
Equity in transportation has been an ongoing issue for cities around the world. Even the best public transportation systems have their limitations. Cruise is working to close the last mile gap (the distance between public transportation and the destination) by providing affordable, accessible, and safe transportation for all.
If you’re still not convinced that Cruise is an attractive transportation alternative, consider the next time you hop on a rideshare vehicle and feel compelled to ask, “so how long have you been doing this?”