Cruise and BrightDrop are working to develop driverless package delivery

Graham Hope

May 17, 2022

3 Min Read
Image shows close-up view from behind of General Motors Cruise self-driving car in the South of Market (SoMA) neighborhood of
Getty Images

General Motors’ self-driving subsidiary Cruise is now working to develop autonomous delivery vehicles alongside the automaker’s electric van business, BrightDrop, it has been reported.

The pair are exploring the potential of giving the vans self-driving capability, with the ultimate goal of creating a driverless package delivery service, according to Bloomberg,

Expanding into vans would be a significant step forward for Cruise, which to date has focused most of its attention on its robotaxi operation. 

The program is progressing well, with Cruise now offering free rides in San Francisco, moving the robotaxis one step closer to commercial viability.

And earlier this month, California’s Public Utilities Commission proposed that Cruise’s application to provide fee-charging passenger service in the city “without a safety driver present” should be approved.

Despite the initial work that is being done with BrightDrop,

it is understood that establishing the robotaxi business remains the firm priority for Cruise. 

The company refused to confirm the Bloomberg story, however, and GM also declined to comment. BrightDrop was slightly more forthcoming, though, with a spokesman quoted as saying: “There are no collaborations to announce with Cruise at this time, but we are always exploring new ways to create innovative and efficient delivery solutions for BrightDrop customers.”

And only last September, BrightDrop CEO Travis Katz had hinted that a collaboration was feasible when he admitted the two companies had been in discussion.

“What we’ve really started to talk about with the Cruise guys is what does the future of delivery look like and what’s the rule for autonomy?” he said.

The move would certainly make sense given both companies’ position under the GM umbrella and the fact the auto giant recently increased its stake in Cruise.

It’s also a reflection of the growing interest in the potential of delivery services from autonomous tech companies.

Cruise itself has been involved in a pilot in Arizona where Walmart customers can have their purchases delivered from a store by a self-driving car.

In September last year, Ford, Argo AI and Walmart announced a plan to offer a similar service in Miami, Austin and Washington DC. The last mile delivery service would use Ford self-driving test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI Self-Driving System to deliver orders to customers.

And Waymo has been candid about its intention to expand into the area of deliveries, explaining on its website how it is working to apply its tech to freight trucks. 

Now it appears Cruise is ready to take its effort to the next stage.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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