Really!? No one ever said it would be easy.
Developing any new vehicle technology takes time, some more so than others. Self-driving vehicles and the advanced and complicated systems that run them are unlike any other vehicle technology out there and, quite obviously, require the best and most creative minds. Still, even the brightest engineers can't speed up technologies that are simply not ready. That's what GM's self-driving unit, Cruise, has learned. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann has confirmed in a blog post on Medium that the company was delaying the commercial deployments of its vehicles past its original target of 2019 because more testing is required.
With less than six months left until the end of the year, this shouldn't really come as much of a surprise considering there's been no major announcement from GM regarding the non-testing deployment of these vehicles. But there is good news. Ammann did confirm the company will expand testing in San Francisco.
Cruise is also continuing to work with Honda and its GM parent company to develop self-driving vehicles that are not converted from existing vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Bolt test vehicle pictured here. Cruise is slated to launch as a ride-hailing service only. We don't know of any immediate plans to sell the vehicles to individuals, though this could change in the future. So far, Cruise has raised $7.25 billion over the past year alone. Investors include SoftBank, Honda, and an investment firm called T. Rowe Price. Delays such as this are not at all unusual and Cruise needs to be 100 percent sure the technology is safe.
"When you're working on the large scale deployment of mission-critical safety systems, the mindset of 'move fast and break things' certainly doesn't cut it," Ammann wrote on Medium.
No new launch date has been announced, but we expect it will happen sometime in 2020, assuming no major issues arise. Cruise isn't the only self-driving technology company that realizes delays in the realm are expected. Rivals are experiencing many of the same issues, with safety being the chief concern. Volkswagen and Ford are two examples, with their new partnership involving a joint investment in Argo AI. BMW and Daimler have also agreed to work together to advance self-driving tech. Sooner or later, the technology and necessary safety issues will be resolved.
"This is not a concept car - hundreds of the best Honda, GM and Cruise engineers are working together on-site in Warren, Michigan, where they are deep into the vehicle development process. This new vehicle completely reimagines from the ground up what a car can be and we can't wait to share more in the near future," Ammann said.