CRUISE, ACQUIRED BY GM, WILL LAUNCH ITS INNOVATIVE TRANSPORT SERVICE IN 2023
Cruise will also be the exclusive provider of self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services for the city, until 2029
The will is there, the technology is there. And they are many, as are the expectations. So, if you were to find yourself in Dubai in a couple of years’ time, in 2023, for business or pleasure, you would be able to travel along the streets of the UAE city in an autonomous vehicle: in other words, without a driver. If the roadmap is adhered to (and there is no reason to think otherwise), in 2023 Cruise Origin could be the bus that takes you around the city or accompanies you to your business meetings.
A small driverless bus
Origin is the minivan, similar to a small bus, from Cruise, San Francisco-based startup controlled by General Motors (which acquired it in 2016) and Honda. Its robotaxi service (that’s what it’s called) will launch in 2023 in Dubai. Not only that. Cruise will be the exclusive provider of self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services for the city until 2029. The choice of the local authorities was influenced by the advanced technology and safety features (vehicles will be sanitised on every journey and measures will be introduced to keep people at a distance during the journey) that Cruise brings with it.
Cruise will use its Origin, a minivan that can accommodate up to six people (three on each side), with no passenger compartment and clearly no driving equipment. It is a shared vehicle, so part of a fleet of vehicles to be used either on call or for scheduled routes with several people inside. Those who climbed aboard spoke of a space that was “more like a living room than a car”, with passengers facing each other, as in a bus. To access the interior, there are sliding doors very similar to those on an underground. According to Cruise CEO Dan Ammann, it is a mode of transport built to last a million miles (about 1,600,000 kilometres).
By 2030 there should be around 4,000 vehicles in Dubai alone. For this reason, a new Dubai-based company will be created to manage the implementation (the group’s main goal, however, is to be the first company to be able to offer an autonomous robotaxi system in San Francisco).
Dubai’s self-driving transport strategy
Robotaxis will be introduced gradually and in specific areas of Dubai, before expanding to other parts of the city. Hamdan bin Mohammed explained that the agreement with Cruise is “an essential step towards the realisation of Dubai’s Self-Driving Transport Strategy”, which aims to have 25 per cent of Dubai’s total trips in autonomous mode by 2030. This is also linked to cost containment, pollution and safety. According to the director general of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, “self-driving vehicles help to increase the level of traffic safety on the roads: human error is the main cause of more than 90% of accidents”.
Cruise Automation was founded in San Francisco in 2013. It was founded by Kyle Vogt and Dan Kan. Over the years it has raised over €7.4 billion from a large number of investors including SoftBank, Honda, GM, T. Rowe Price Group and Microsoft (which has made its Azure cloud platform available to Cruise). In 2016 it was acquired by General Motors for $1 billion. The current valuation is around $20 billion. It is currently one of the most capitalised driverless vehicle companies in the world. In June, the company obtained a new $5 billion credit line, which will be used specifically for Origin.
sources: startupitalia.eu / techcrunch.com / cnbc.com
cover photo: getcruise.com
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