Car Industry

GM's Cruise wants to expand autonomous tests to public

Right now, it's only available to employees.

Cruise Automation

If you want to take a ride in Cruise Automation's self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV, you'll have to work there. But it might not stay that way for long.

Cruise Automation, a subsidiary of General Motors focused on autonomous driving, hopes to expand its Cruise Anywhere program to the general public, Reuters reports. Cruise did not immediately return a request for comment, but it declined to discuss future business plans with Reuters.

Aside from the lidar emitters up top, and the livery on the side, you'd have a hard time telling this Bolt EV apart from a regular one.

Cruise Automation

Right now, Cruise Anywhere is only available to Cruise employees. Using an app, employees can snag up a ride to get anywhere in San Francisco, seven days a week. Per TechCrunch, the program, which launched earlier this year, relies on Chevrolet Bolt EVs equipped with the technology to enable full autonomy. For safety's sake, though, employees still sit in the driver's seat.

If Cruise Anywhere moves from private to public, it'll be among the first group of companies to share its self-driving tech with your average Joe or Jane. Waymo announced its first public pilot program back in April, limited to residents in the Phoenix area. Volvo has a similar setup in Sweden, as well.

Uber rolled out its own public trials for its self-driving vehicles, but the State of California attempted to stop it almost as soon as it began, claiming it broke the law. What followed was a back-and-forth that resulted in Uber taking its self-driving vehicles to Arizona. The cars eventually returned to San Francisco, but only as mapping vehicles and not as part of any public trial.

General Motors may be old, but the dog still has a few tricks left to learn. It's wise to invest in a broad swath of new schemes that seek to replace or live alongside traditional car ownership, which many believe will drop as autonomous ride-hailing operations begin in earnest. Transportation as a service won't exactly upend the current industry in its entirety, but it's best to begin preparing for it nice and early.

GM has a semi-autonomous system of its own that differs from the Cruise Automation system. The Super Cruise system, available first on the 2018 Cadillac CT6 sedan, permits hands-off driving on the highway for brief stretches of time. The system monitors both the road and the driver, and the driver will have to remain vigilant, as the system may choose to send control back to a human at any point.