Acquired by General Motors last year, the company - which operates as an independent unit - says its latest prototype represents "the world’s first mass-producible car designed to operate without a driver." The prototype is based on a Chevrolet Bolt EV and features "airbags, crumple zones, and comfortable seats."
"The car we’re unveiling today is actually our 3rd generation self-driving car, but it’s the first that meets the redundancy and safety requirements we believe are necessary to operate without a driver," says Cruise Automation CEO and founder Kyle Vogt. "There’s no other car like this in existence."
According to Vogt, the new 3rd-generation vehicle has almost completely new and fault-tolerant electrical, communication, and actuation systems that are unique to a driverless vehicle. In fact, he says, its core system architecture "more closely resembles that of a commercial airplane or spacecraft."
For example, the vehicle's wire harness has 4,085 wires and 1,066 connectors. Developing and manufacturing the vehicle has been made possible by having the resources of a GM assembly plant available - in this case, a billion dollar state-of-the-art plant in Lake Orion, MI.
The cars will be initially deployed to carry Cruise Automation employees around San Francisco, using the company's app. For now though, says Vogt, a human will still remain behind the wheel.
For more, see Vogt's article discussing the latest prototype: How we built the first real self-driving car (really) .
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