Cruise didn't plan to make its own stuff. It can seem a lot more appealing if you are in the quest to make money with robotaxis.

Cruise realized that the price of chips from suppliers was too high, the parts were too big, and the reliability of the third-party technology just wasn't there.

Cruise doubled down on its own hardware as a result of a hiring spree that began in 2019. The company has been able to develop smaller, cheaper hardware for its vehicles. The current generation of Chevy Bolts is powered by the C5 production board.

The C6 board will be included in the Originrobotaxi when it hits the streets in 2023. The C7 will have Cruise's Dune chip. All of the sensor data will be processed by Dune.

Tier 1 suppliers are usually used in order to reduce R&D and manufacturing costs in the automotive industry. Cruise was not able to launch its ride-sharing service without doing more of the work. The C7 board is 90 percent cheaper, has a 70% reduction in mass, and uses 40% less power than chips provided by a supplier.

The company is also taking care of other things. Almost everything else, including cameras, short-range lidar, and radar, is being developed in-house.

The off-the-shelf radar they used didn't have the resolution they needed for their vehicles to operate. There is a long-term cost reduction similar to the board.

"I was told the price point I have to meet in order to get this hardware in the future." I went to all the CTOs in Germany. Do you have any research tanks that meet this? Not even a word was said. How long should you take? There are seven years.

He was able to increase his team to over 500.

The cost of building the Origin with in-house developed hardware was not feasible, according to the CEO. The thing doesn't exist.

Cruise wants to be able to buy the hardware it needs.

The components that have the robustness needed to operate in a harsh automotive environment didn't have the capabilities needed for an audiovisual system. The components that were needed to operate in those environments weren't able to.

Made at Cruise, used at GM?

A more cautious approach has been taken by automakers when it comes to selling self-driving cars to consumers. Cruise's technology can be used in a GM product sold to a customer.

There is reason to think it will.

Mary Barra, the CEO and Chairman of GM, has said many times that the company will make and sell personal self-drive vehicles by mid-decade.

In a recent interview, Mark Reuss, president of GM, said that Cruise is a bellwether for the future of self-driving cars. The parent company of Cruise has focused on advanced driver assistance systems.

Reuss said, "When we start researching and looking at personal autonomously driving vehicles there are choices like does the car have pedals or does it not have pedals at all." We are looking at what people want and that is hard to answer.

A few years shy of its mid-decade goal, GM still has a lot of work to do, including its go-to-market strategy for these personal autonomously driving vehicles. The feedback from its recent concept for a car.

Ruess said that GM hasn't decided if the PAVs will be an up-market product or attached to an existing vehicle model.

Bumps in the road

cruise app car san francisco

Roberto Baldwin's image was used.

Only during the middle of the night and within 30% of the city are Cruise's rides available. The company says that the decision was made to make sure its vehicles worked during less busy times. The area and time constraints are being expanded.

There will be more Chevy Bolts in San Francisco. The next 90 days will see the expansion of Cruise to Phoenix, Arizona and Austin, Texas.

Cruise's next step is scaling. The hiccup keeps coming. There have been reports of problems with the Cruise robotaxis.

The company updated the software on 80 of its vehicles after one of them was involved in a collision. A Bolt was pulled over for not having its headlights on and at one point was pulled away from the police officer. There is a group of Cruise Bolts that were assembled at an intersection and couldn't decide where to go next causing traffic issues.

The bunching up of the vehicles is part of the scaling process. It's not a big deal. The CEO said that it was an annoyance and not a problem. One of the back-end services that AVs have islipped and didn't come back online quickly. At the time, there was only one launch location for the vehicles and they were cruising along one of their main corridors near that launch location. Since then, Cruise has made them more tolerant.

The company is confident in its system. Skeptics need to be convinced that a ride in a vehicle without a driver is worth the money.

Our driverless ride

We were given a ride in a Bolt at the end of the tour.

On our way to Japan Town, we unlocked the doors of our vehicle with a tap on the app, and we were on our way.

Vehicles were parked along the route with their doors open. The Bolt slowed a bit, turned on its blinker and then slid into the other lane. The personality of a cautious human made it difficult for it to pull out at four-way stops.

It was exciting at first and boring at the end. After 20 minutes of being carted around by a robot, the last 10 minutes are spent wondering if you'll get stuck at an intersection, which is a little weird.

The transportation editor has additional reporting.