GM Cruise’s Driverless Damp Squib

General Motors’ Cruise has launched its first fully autonomous vehicle claiming it was “production ready” but, in truth, it remains only a concept.

That’s because the Cruise Origin, constructed in cooperation with Honda one of the company’s stakeholders, has yet to be homologated for highway use, something it is not likely to achieve anytime soon thanks to there be no provision for a human pilot as all current autonomous test mules must have to achieve regulators’ permission for on-road testing.

The vehicle, sharing the box-like styling echoing Toyota’s e-Palette, has no driver mechanisms at all lacking steering wheel, rear-view mirror or pedals for acceleration and braking. Perhaps it’s just as well the company bills it as “not a product you buy; it’s an experience you share” although one you will not share in the foreseeable future.

Technically, the Origin claims to draw on Cruise’s extensive on-road testing carried out with traditional Chevrolet Bolt vehicles modified for autonomous driving but, crucially, all with human pilots required to intervene when the technology cannot cope with real-world driving situations, something they have had to do every 5,000 miles or so.

So, rather than welcoming the dawn of fully driverless transportation, the new Origin shows us just how far the industry has to go to realize this vision, something both Ford and Volkswagen have already accepted having scaled back on investment in the technology.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_




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