GM seems to be putting the pedal hard on for Cruise Automation. The company has just declared that Cruise Automation will join hands with DoorDash to use their Self-Driving Cars to start deliver services on food and groceries.
Self-Driving Cars have a lot of application other than just being a Shared Autonomous Fleet. One main application where Self-Driving Cars could create major ripples is the logistics industry where these vehicles can be used to transport goods and services without any human interference. The human labor force can then be diverted for other productive work.
Cruise seems to be testing out this application of Autonomous Cars in Logistics and Transportation by getting involved in Food Delivery Services. For this Cruise Automation and DoorDash have struck an alliance. For those of you who are not aware of DoorDash, it is a Technology based On-Deman Courier Service for delivering food from restaurants to your doorsteps.
DoorDash customers will now be seen as receiving the foods delivered by Cruises’ test cars. The cars used for food delivery will be the Chevrolet Bolt, which is also one of the main cars used by Cruise for its Autonomous Test Drives.
The areas where Cruise will be delivering food will be limited to the areas where they are currently testing their cars, in San Fransisco. The exact number of cars deployed for the delivery service has not yet been disclosed.
There could be two major reasons why Cruise Automation would want to push their Autonomous Vehicles into delivering food and grocery supplies. One reason could be to establish itself in creating and deploying Self-Driving Cars for applications other than Autonomous Fleet. With multiple rounds of funding, Cruise will have to start generating revenues to keep the current investors satisfied. Hence they have to start exploring where they can actually start deploying their Autonomous Vehicles to start generating revenues.
In fact, Soft Bank will provide its second phase of funding amounting to 1.35 Billion Dollars will be released only once the Self-Driving Cars are ready for use. Getting involved in the delivery services at this point would definitely provide Cruise with an added advantage to establish itself as a major player in this segment later on.
The second reason could be that through the food delivery services, Cruise wants to test its Self-Driving Technology. Ordered food needs to be delivered within a stipulated time frame. This puts pressure on the cars to maneuver quickly through the roads and adhering to traffic rules at the same time. This, in turn, will help Cruise’s Automation Technology learn and adapt to more challenging situations.
Also, once Cruise starts generating revenues from its Delivery Service and other streams, if any, will help the company to attract more investors.
This will also help the people to familiarize themselves with the name Cruise Automation and also their Self-Driving Cars. Later on, when Cruise will start testing its car with passengers, this familiarity could prove to be an added advantage.
2018 has been a busy year for Cruise Automation with the company witnessing a lot of notable events. These include multiple rounds of funding, first from Soft Bank and then from Honda, a probable plan to opening up more office spaces and to recruit a network pool of fresh talents. Yet another major event that unfolded in the company was to appoint Dan Ammann as the CEO of Cruise Automation replacing Kyle Vogt. However, Kyle will still continue as the Chief Technology Officer at Cruise.
The company had also witnessed a major increase in employees from just over 40 in 2013 to around 1000 in 2018. Cruise Automation is now valued at around 14.6 Billion Dollars.
It is now quite evident that GM does have some major plans for Cruise Automation. Looking at the way in which Cruise Automation is growing, we can expect to see Cruise deploying its Self-Driving Cars as early as in 2019.