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Silicon Valley Robotaxi Startup Voyage Acquired by Cruise, the Autonomous Driving Unit of General Motors

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【Summary】​Cruise LLC, the autonomous driving unit of automaker General Motors, announced that it’s acquiring Silicon Valley startup Voyage, a startup that’s been working on autonomous driving for a planned robotaxi service for private senior communities in Florida and California. The deal represents the latest tie up between competing companies racing to develop self-driving technology.

Eric Walz    Mar 15, 2021 1:30 PM PT
Silicon Valley Robotaxi Startup Voyage Acquired by Cruise, the Autonomous Driving Unit of General Motors
A Cruise self-driving vehicle in San Francisco. (Photo: Cruise)

Cruise LLC, the autonomous driving unit of automaker General Motors, announced that it's acquiring Silicon Valley startup Voyage, a company that's been working on autonomous driving for a planned robotaxi service for private senior communities in Florida and California.

The deal represents the latest tie up between competing companies racing to develop self-driving technology.  

Voyage has been focused on offering a safe and affordable shuttle service using autonomous vehicles. The company was one of the first to serve customers with its self-driving vehicles. Voyage has been actively testing its self-driving fleet of minivans at The Villages in Florida and San Jose California, two of the largest senior communities in the U.S. Voyage's on-demand transportation service allows elderly residents, many of which don't drive, the ability to run errands or just visit friends. It's not clear if Voyage will continue those plans now that it's being acquired by Cruise.

Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron will join Cruise as vice president of product. 

"Voyage is tightly aligned to our mission, and shares our mindset around safety, accessibility, cost and convenience for customers," said said Cruise spokesman Ray Wert. "Their talented team is highly productive and resourceful, with direct experience in developing a full-stack AV solution that will help accelerate our efforts to build the world's most advanced self-driving vehicles."

For the past 4 years, GM's unit Cruise has been working to launch a robotaxi service in San Francisco using a fleet of Chevy Bolt EVs supplied by the automaker. The vehicles are outfitted with autonomous driving hardware and software developed by Cruise. 

The company's San Francisco fleet includes around 200 self-driving Chevy Bolts. Cruise has made great progress so far in San Francisco, one of the most challenging environments for testing autonomous driving technology. The vehicles are capable of operating without human backup within the city. 

In Jan 2020, Cruise unveiled its Origin shuttle, a fully-autonomous multi passenger vehicle built in a partnership with GM and Japan's Honda Motor Co. The Origin will be part of the commercial robotaxi service when it launches in San Francisco.

Cruise itself was a relatively unknown autonomous driving startup in 2016 when General Motors took a majority stake in for a reported $1 billion in order to help the automaker jumpstart its own autonomous driving development. The acquisition of Cruise only adds to GM's investment. 

The deal could represent a huge boost for GM's future autonomous driving development, which now has access to the technology developed by both Cruise and Voyage. The acquisition of Voyage may ultimately benefit the automaker's ability to boost its autonomous driving potential, by integrating the technology into GM vehicles at scale. 

The acquisition of Voyage by Cruise is the latest example of companies working together to boost the development of autonomous driving technology. In the race to develop autonomous driving technology at scale, there have been similar partnerships and consolidation within industry. 

E-commerce giant Amazon acquired startup Zoox to develop autonomous delivery vehicles for more than $1 billion. While Ford Motor Co and Volkswagen both invested in autonomous driving startup Argo AI, which is developing the technology for both automakers. 

Cruise intends to leverage Microsoft's Azure cloud and edge computing platform for commercialization. In January, Microsoft announced it will join GM, Honda and other institutional investors in a combined equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing the post-money valuation of the company to $30 billion.

For GM, the goal of the partnership with Cruise is to transform transportation and help the automaker realize its goal of building electric, shared and connected self-driving vehicles with the highest level of safety. Voyage will now be a part of this mission.

The financial details of the Voyage acquisition were not disclosed and are still subject to customary closing conditions.


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