Exclusive look at Cruise’s first fully driverless car


– Hey, it’s Andy with The
Verge, and we just got our first exclusive look at the new autonomous vehicle from Cruise,
they call it the Origin. It really didn’t look like
any car I’ve ever seen before and that’s really kind of
the first impression you get as soon as you approach this vehicle. The outside of it has the same dimensions as a normal crossover SUV, but that’s really kind of
where the similarities end. (bass music) So when you wanna get in to the vehicle, you first have to put
in a code on its keypad, that’s on the door on the outside, and it sort of opens as if, like, it’s a minivan that opens from both sides. You get in and you have a very spacious interior of the vehicle, and that’s obvious because
there’s no steering wheel, there’s no pedals, there’s no gear shaft, there’s not even really a dashboard or any infotainment system. There’s just two bench
seats facing each other and this sort of vast
space in between them. – It’s designed to be
comfortable if it’s shared, but if it’s just you you
got so much space in here, you can really like, stretch
out, and it’s pretty great. And so I think it’s a good experience, whether it’s just you or
a lot of other people. – You can do yoga in here probably. – Absolutely you can do yoga. Well, as long as your seatbelt’s on, I don’t know how that works. – Now you may have heard of some other self driving operators like Waymo, which used to be part of Google, and Argo which is backed
by Ford and Volkswagen. Cruise is tied very closely
to GM, General Motors, which is the largest auto
manufacturer in the US. Cruise has 160 self driving test vehicles that are Chevy Volts, electric vehicles, here in San Francisco, where they hope to
eventually launch a fully driverless robo taxi service. But more importantly, they’ve
raised about seven billion dollars in venture
capital cash over the last couple of years, which
is really just like, a staggering amount of money
for a self driving car company. Especially when you consider
that they haven’t even scaled a commercial product yet. Now about two point seven billion of that is coming from the other
big auto manufacturer in Cruise’s corner, and that’s Honda. This doesn’t look like any
other car in the road today, and that’s because Cruise says it wants to move beyond the car, arguing that many of the
problems that we have today could be traced to single
occupancy vehicles. – Well there’s some things about removing the driver, and the
steering wheel, and the pedal, that eliminates some complexity
and cost in the vehicle. But as you can see here, the
way vehicles are designed, normally they have a hood in
the front where the engine is, and some storage in the trunk. But when you don’t need all that stuff, and you don’t need things
placed where they are, we can have this enormous, spacious cabin without taking up any
more space on the road than a regular car would,
which is kind of insane. It leads to a far greater
experience for the rider, but then because we built this car around the idea of not having a driver, and specifically being
used in a ride share fleet, that kind of business, you know the vehicle is engineered
to last a million miles, and all the interior
components are replaceable. The compute is replaceable,
the sensors are replaceable, and what that does is it
drives the cost per mile down way low than you could ever reach. – Now Cruise insists that this
is not just a fancy concept, which is a really important
distinction to make. Now we’ve seen dozens
of radical car concepts over the years that have
re-imagined interiors that look like fancy
living rooms or bedrooms. But none of those really have any chance of hitting the road anytime soon, if ever. Cruise says that this car
is going into production. But it’s gonna be tough getting there. Cruise needs a special exemption
from the federal government in order to mass produce vehicles without traditional human controls like
steering wheels and pedals. And the federal government
only grants about 2,500 exemptions a year. Now GM put in its request for an exemption back in 2018, but it hasn’t gotten it yet, and it’s unclear when
exactly this car is going to be approved to hit the road. Now Cruise has hit some
bumps in the road before. Its plan to launch a robo
taxi service in San Francisco before the end of 2019
didn’t really happen. It said the technology
wasn’t really ready yet. And Cruise has said it
wanted to test its vehicles in New York City, but that
never really went anywhere. Now I think it’s safe to say that Cruise is feeling the heat from its competitors like Uber and Tesla, Waymo and Ford. Now the Google self driving car project recently started giving
people rides in its self driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, with no safety driver in the front seat, which is a pretty enormous leap. But the van still has
steering wheels and pedals. But removing the safety
driver is a pretty dramatic way of saying that this
technology is here, it’s ready, and it works. Cruise missed its chance
to be the first to launch a taxi service and it missed its chance to be the first to take safety drivers out of the front of the vehicle. But with this car, it has the
opportunity to be the first to do something maybe even more radical, that’s change the conversation,
move beyond the car, and come up with an entirely different way of getting around. Now I know I said this wasn’t a concept, but if you’d like concepts, check out the videos that we did at CES, there’s a lot of really crazy
things that we saw this year, check it out at YouTube.com/theverge.