The first Cruise Origin AVs hit the Texan streets on the evening of Tuesday, March 21st, 2023, according to the tweet.
These prototypes, still piloted by human drivers, are engaged in the task of “manually collecting data that will be used for AV perception system testing and validation,” Cruise says. The Origins are apparently not transporting passengers at this point.
Human-driven Cruise Origin robotaxis first appeared on the streets of San Francisco, the city where Cruise has been testing its AVs most intensively up to this point. The Origin took to Frisco’s roadways in late 2022, following in the footsteps of the heavily modified, self-driving Chevy Bolt EVs that Cruise has been using to test the technology eventually to be fielded in the Cruise Origin.
GM Authority spotted the first human-driven Cruise Origin being tested at the GM Proving Ground in July 2022. The spy photos obtained at the time showed that, when modified for human control, the driver sits dead center in the vehicle, equidistant from both ends with the driver’s seat positioned between the two pairs of sliding doors giving egress to the interior.
The production version of the Cruise Origin will not include any human-operable controls. The cabin will not include a steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals, or other control features, but only facing bench seats to accommodate passengers. A delivery version with grocery lockers has also been mentioned by Cruise executives.
Cruise is testing the Origin with human-driven prototypes for the time being because it does not yet have NHTSA permission to either manufacture or deploy fully autonomous Cruise Origin units. It is currently seeking that permission, which is needed because the NHTSA must grant an exemption to motor vehicle safety standards. These standards require a steering wheel, accelerator, and brake to be present for any vehicle to be produced or appear on public roads.
As a reminder, GM built the Cruise Origin from the ground up as an autonomous vehicle, basing it on the GM BEV3 platform. The vehicle is motivated by Ultium Battery technology and Ultium Drive motors. Production, when it begins, will take place at the Factory Zero plant.
You can view the original tweet about the Austin, Texas deployment of Cruise Origins below.[div align=”center”]
We’ve kicked off one of the last steps before Origin testing in Austin begins!
Starting tonight, expect to see human-operated prototypes out and about the city, manually collecting data that will be used for AV perception system testing and validation.
— cruise (@Cruise) March 21, 2023