GM’s Cruise division doesn’t want to rely on outside manufacturers for the chips that power its autonomous vehicles, so it’s making its own. As told by Carl Jenkins, the company’s vice president of hardware engineering, Reutersthe main motivator for the change is the high costs associated with paying for other companies’ chips.
“Two years ago, we were paying top dollar for a GPU from a famous vendor,” Jenkins told the news organization, referring to NVIDIA. He explained that Cruise could not negotiate because it was not yet mass-producing autonomous vehicles. Its technology is still in its experimental stages, and although it recently became the first company to get permission to charge for self-driving rides, its operations remain limited. By making his own chips, Cruise, like Tesla, Apple and Volkswagen before him, is taking his future into his own hands.
Jenkins has revealed that Cruise had already developed four chips at this point, starting with Horta, which was designed to become the vehicle’s main brain. Dune will process the data from the sensors, while another chip will process the information from the radar. Another one will be announced at a later date. These components will power the Cruise Origin, the autonomous electric shuttle that the company first announced in 2020. The Cruise Origin will have no steering wheel or pedals and instead have four seats inside facing each other. It is designed to be used as a shared vehicle that is on the road at all times, transporting passengers to their destinations.
Company executives wouldn’t say how much they spent on developing the chips, but they believe they could recoup their investment once Cruise starts ramping up production. Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said the company’s in-house chips would help Origin “reach that sweet spot from a cost perspective” by 2025 and make it feasible to purchase fully autonomous vehicles for personal use. It’s unclear if that means Cruise intends to sell Origin to private individuals, but GM boss Mary Barra said announced at this year’s CES that the automaker wants to sell personal autonomous vehicles by the middle of the decade.
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