Cruise’s Origin self-driving electric shuttle is ready to redefine transportation

Cruise wants to revolutionize transportation with its Origin electric shuttle.
Image: Cruise

Fans of the future were wowed on Tuesday night when Cruise unveiled a plan for a new type of transportation. It’s self-driving, electric-powered Origin is “production-ready” and wants to revolutionize how people get around. The ambitious startup says that its vehicle is designed with a rideshare service in mind.

Hands-Free Driving

The announcement of Cruise’s Origin on Tuesday put many rumors about the vehicle to rest. They have been swirling for several years while the company designed its new transport. Origin is the result of a collaboration between GM and Honda (an investor in the former).

On the outside, it looks more or less like a blocky, long SUV. Cruise’s eye-catching orange and black colors brand an exterior that features elevator-style doors on either side that open to reveal a spacious cabin. Even that detail was created thoughtfully. The company says that the sliding doors will keep bikers safer while Origin picks up passengers on tight city streets.

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Meanwhile, Origin comfortably seats up to six people in its spacious interior. This is, in part, due to the fact that the shuttle doesn’t have a steering wheel or pedals. In fact, it doesn’t even have a dashboard. Origin operates with full autonomy thanks to a suite of sensors and AI-driven algorithms.

Upon entering, riders can look up at one of the two displays situated on either side of the transport for information about their ride and other passengers that may be picked up along the way.

Designed for Ridesharing

It goes without saying that Cruise isn’t targeting consumers as its market for Origin. In fact, it isn’t targeting a market at all. Rather, the startup wants to use the driverless shuttle as part of its own rideshare service.

Due to the nature of Origin, Cruise believes that this will be a profitable venture while saving riders money in the meantime. Its CEO Dan Ammann says that the vehicle will last one million miles. For a rideshare company, that’s equivalent to gold. Meanwhile, all of Origin’s cabin components, computer hardware, and self-driving sensors are fully replaceable to further extend the shuttle’s lifespan.

Ultimately, this leads to extremely low operating costs and will allow the company to offer rides at lower prices than any of its competitors who utilize traditional cars. It promises that a San Franciscan household who either drives a car or uses current rideshare services can save upwards of $5,000 per year.

Unfortunately, it might still be a while before Cruise can put this plan into action. Since it doesn’t have a steering wheel or pedals, it will need an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to go into production. The agency’s regulators must ensure that Origin can operate safely without a human driver before it can start cruising (pun intended) on public roads.

In the meantime, Cruise will use it in private environments, such as in GM facilities and on Honda’s international properties.

Regardless of how long it takes, the startup plans to move forward with the vehicle and put it into production on a wide scale. This isn’t just another concept car. With hopes to “move beyond the car,” it will be interesting to see how Origin can fulfill Cruise’s mission.


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