The most exiting autonomous technology news for self-driving cars in 2014 did not come from Audi, BMW, Google or any of the other usual subjects but from a tiny start-up called (very unoriginal) “Cruise”. They announced in June 2014 “to reinvent cruise control and to actually drive you”.
As the The Verge wrote in June:
This is the first public demo of Cruise, a new technology and business from a Y Combinator startup aptly named Cruise Automation. It’s designed as a computer-controlled driving system that can take over when you’re behind the wheel. Turn it on like typical cruise control and it will keep the car going, but the added smarts will steer, brake, and avoid objects”
The announced features of the “Cruise RP-1” self-driving car kit include:
- Precision steering: Motors mounted near the steering column make gentle corrections to keep you in your lane.
- Advanced car and lane tracking: The RP-1’s sensors monitor the lane markers and the vehicles around you to keep you safe.
- Adaptive speed control:RADAR tracking of nearby vehicles ensures a safe following distance.
- Collision avoidance: Your vehicle will automatically slow down, or even stop completely if you encounter traffic or a stopped vehicle.
That sounded great! A self-driving car for the rest of us, even if limited to highways or the Autobahn for now. Press coverage in Techcrunch, WSJ and re/code followed. As part of their PR blitz on June 23 they also announced that the company is limiting the pre-sale to just 50 orders, with a waitlist after that.
But… now its October, and when I checked back on their homepage for progress, or new videos, I was expecting an “Sorry,we are all booked out sign - no more pre-orders possible” but to my big surprise the sign-up form is still active:
Be the first to experience Cruise. We’re currently accepting 50 pre-orders for a 2015 launch. Order now to join the driverless revolution.
Cruise Founders Club ($10,000): Join the Cruise Founders Club and get one of the first 50 Cruise RP-1s installed on your vehicle in 2015.
Does that mean that between June and now (October) they were not able to find 50 autonomous driving enthusiasts that live in California, have an Audi S4 and $10,000 – and a daily commute they want to at least semi-automate?
That surprises me.
It is equally disturbing that there is no other sign of life on their websites, too. The press page has not been updated since June 23. Let’s hope that they are just so busy tweaking their algorithms that even the marketing guys have to pitch in coding or test driving… Or was the project to ambitious?
I certainly hope that it works out, and I can add “Cruise” to my list of Self-Driving Car (Parts) That You Can Buy Already Now in early 2015.