This startup is tryign to beta Google to the punch with self-driving cars


We’ve all seen photos and video of Google’s driverless car by now, but the day when these self-driving vehicles are actually available to purchase is still years away. Thankfully, one startup is already delivering on the promise of self-driving cars, though it will cost you $10,000 to try it for yourself. Unlike Google’s latest self-driving car, Cruise Automation can’t replace the driver entirely. Instead, it’s designed to take cruise control a step further by taking over your gas pedal, breaks and steering wheel. The entire $10,000 package includes a Sensor Pod equipped with cameras, radar and other measurement tools that sit on the top of your car, a specialized computer mounted inside the trunk, and a simple control panel installed into the dashboard.

Google’s driverless car project has been getting plenty of attention for the kinds of changes it could bring to transportation, but buying an entirely new, self-driving car is out of most people’s budgets and many years away. Cruise Automation is a San Francisco-based startup that thinks it can get the technology to market sooner with something far more simple: a $10,000 accessory you can strap to the roof of your car and plug into your footwell. As of Monday, Cruise is taking pre-orders for 50 units of its RP-1 product, and says it will start installing them in cars early next year. One caveat: the system only works on Audi A4 and S4 vehicles, but Cruise is working towards making its technology compatible with other car manufacturers too. “We have plans to expand to other models,” says Cruise’s founder Kyle Vogt. “We haven’t made formal decisions to what would be next.” He points out that working directly with automakers can take three-to-five years, which suggests Cruise might want to create its systems independent of manufacturers. Vogt refers to his product as a “highway autopilot.” To work, drivers take their car onto the highway and onto the lane they want to be in, then they push a button for the system to take control of the accelerator and brake pedals, along with the steering. Drivers can then turn the system off in several different ways, including by tapping the gas pedal or by taking control of the steering wheel.

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