Here’s Why GM’s Cruise is Worth Watching

When Softbank invested in the future of autonomous driving, GM’s Cruise unit is likely one thing it got right. Many Softbank startups are showing they weren’t good bets, buif you pick the right horse in autonomous driving it will be very profitable.

Cruise’s blog pales in comparison to Waymo One, but it’s a startup that is quickly growing. In the Spring of 2019, GM Cruise raised another $1.15 billion in new equity from a group of investors that includes T.

Rowe Price Associates, Honda, SoftBank Vision Fund and its parent company, GM, as the self-driving vehicle company pushes to launch a commercial autonomous ride-hailing service this year.

As Amazon has done for Rivian, Softbank has really elevated the portfolio of Cruise automation. Cruise has raised more than 5 Billion, according to Crunchbase. GM Cruise has one of the most aggressive timelines among companies hoping to deploy a commercial self-driving vehicle service.

Cruise’s vision of an all electric autonomous vehicle in Cruise Origin is really interesting. Honda is also a major investors in Cruise Automation. A GM and Honda alliance in this venture is necessary to keep up with the Waymo One, Baidu, Tesla, Uber and and other leaders of the world that will emerge. It’s notable that Intel’s Mobileeye has partnered with Nio for autonomous vehicles as well.

A few winners are likely to dominate the next era of automobiles where car companies race to become technology and AI companies in the era of Tesla’s emergence.

Waymo One is considered the leader in autonomous driving tech (see their new blog here). GM Cruise however I think is off to a decent start. They have their own ideas on how to solve the LiDAR problem with the acquisition of Strobe. Cruise has long been critical of Waymo’s decision to concentrate most of its testing in a suburban environment, rather than in a more complex, urban one like Cruise has.

Rivian and Cruise are EV and Autonomous driving startups to watch, but there are so many in the U.S. and China that could really do well. Our old vision of cars is likely over: one of human-driven, gasoline-powered, single-occupant cars.

It’s pretty irresponsible. Car companies need to pivot to a new world where consumer choices are going to favor more modular, smarter, electric and more autonomous vehicles.

Pony.AI is collaborating with Toyota, and battle lines are being set for the future of the car and driving. Recently, Cruise Automation showed off its latest and most solid self-driving car yet, the Cruise Origin (pictured above).

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