General Motors is letting Cruise Automation do its thing. Rather than integrate the company into its current business unit, GM is incredibly hands-off with its most recent acquisition.
GM knows how to build a car, Cruise knows how to develop and refine the software to make a car drive itself. Cruise Automation itself is pretty low-key as well. Only occasionally will it post a video to social media showcasing a self-driving 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. According to Automotive News, this is all on purpose.
“Cruise Automation is running as a startup,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “Not only are they responsible for the technology, but they’re responsible for the commercialization — so the entire business.”
Head of GM autonomous technology and vehicle execution, Doug Parks, does his job and keeps an eye on Cruise, but tries not to interfere in the work going on.
“There’s a lot of talent at Cruise, and one of the best things about Cruise is the speed at which they operate,” said Parks. “So when we acquired them … the last thing we wanted to do is squelch that.”
Parks holds a call with Cruise Automation every single day, which ranges from a few minutes to an hour.
“It’s more about, is there something that needs to be fixed today that can’t wait till tomorrow? It’s not a status and report kind of thing,” he said. “We enable those guys to go hard and fast. They challenge us. Sometimes we challenge them.”
Moving forward, Cruise will only become more integral. GM plans to deploy self-driving vehicles sooner rather than later, and Cruise plans to hire on over 1,000 new employees to help expand its reach. Meanwhile, GM became the first automaker to assemble a self-driving car with traditional manufacturing processes.