Cruise Automation, GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, is continuing its rapid expansion. After announcing new offices in Seattle and Pasadena, California Cruise will now double its staff over the next nine months, according to a new report from Reuters. The new hires will come as General Motors and Cruise prepare to launch an autonomous ride-sharing service later this year. The majority of those hired will be engineers; however, Cruise spokesman Ray Wert didn’t specify exact numbers.
General Motors acquired Cruise Automation in 2016 with just 40 employees. In November of last year, the company employed just shy of 1,100 with its workforce growing 30 to 40 percent every quarter. Since the acquisition, Cruise received significant investments from Honda and SoftBank, both investing a total of $5 billion into the company, giving it a $14.6 billion valuation. The news of doubling Cruise’s staff comes just months after GM announced it’d double its resources for both autonomous and electric vehicles.
Cruise Automation will likely launch its autonomous ride-sharing company in San Francisco where the company has recently shown great strides in autonomous driving. A video shows a Cruise vehicle navigating tricky San Francisco streets with ease and human-like precision, making complex decisions that resulted in crossing a double-yellow line and passing several cars at once on crowded streets. Cruise also saw an improvement in autonomous vehicle disengagements, increasing from 1,230 miles between disengagements—where a human has to take control—to 5,200 miles.
The increased investment in Cruise Automation, which came in under its $1 billion budget last year, comes as General Motors navigates a complicated restructuring that will rely on high-profit models such as trucks, crossovers, and SUVs to help subsidize research and development for autonomous and electric vehicles. This year will be crucial for Cruise, which will also begin a partnership with DoorDash, the meal delivery company. The two will work together to deliver meals to residents of San Francisco.