The automaker included a blurb about its Cruise Automation strategy in its Q2 earnings report released today, briefly outlining the steps it will take to work towards a large scale rollout of the autonomous ride-hailing service.
“After a new equity raise in May of $1.15 billion which raised its valuation to $19 billion, in July Cruise announced actions to advance its plans toward launch in San Francisco,” the statement reads. “To deploy at large scale, Cruise will signiﬁcantly increase its testing and validation miles over the balance of 2019; increase community engagement through advertising and live events; and continue work on the development of a purpose-built autonomous vehicle – the eﬀort of hundreds of talented Cruise, GM and Honda engineers. This vehicle will completely reimagine the customer experience from the ground up.”
The company had previously planned to put a fleet of driverless, self-driving robo-taxis onto public streets before the end of 2019. It also filed a petition with the federal government that would allow them to operate without steering wheels or accelerator or brake pedals. At the time, it claimed the Cruise AV was set to be the “first production-ready vehicle built from the start to operate safely on its own, with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls.” It later said that it would delay the rollout of an AV without traditional controls indefinitely.
Many automakers, tech companies, and investment banks are keen to get involved with self-driving technologies due to the growing demand for ride-hailing services and the potential savings that could result from not having to pay a driver. GM has described it as a multi-billion dollar opportunity, but when it delayed the rollout of its self-driving taxi service, the automaker’s stock barely budged. This may suggest that many did not expect GM to meet its extremely aggressive timeline for the rollout to begin with.
It’s unclear when Cruise will launch officially, but for now, it will continue testing on the streets of San Francisco (and in larger numbers) as it works towards the eventual rollout in the city and, perhaps one day, other cities in North America and abroad.