The Fuse

This Week In AVs: Cruise Seeks OK For AV Deployment; NHTSA Watches Tesla FSD Rollout; And More

by Alex Adams | @alexjhadams | October 29, 2020

Cruise Seeks OK To Deploy AVs Without Pedals Or Steering Wheels
Last week, AV developer Cruise announced that it and majority shareholder GM would seek U.S. regulatory approval to deploy a limited number of its Cruise Origin AVs: driverless passenger vehicles without steering wheels or pedals. In seeking this approval, Cruise also announced it will be withdrawing an exemption petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in January 2018.

The 2018 request sought exemption to deploy AVs on public roads without steering wheels or pedals, but was for driverless vehicles based instead on its Chevy Bolt platform, rather than the Cruise Origin vehicle. NHTSA, which spent 15 months reviewing the GM petition before seeking public comment, said last week that it “will review the new petition when it is received.” The announcement comes after Cruise received a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles last week to be the first to test cars without any riders on San Francisco streets.

AV Testing Company Receives $1.25 Billion Valuation
Applied Intuition, a California-based startup that provides AV developers with the software needed to run autonomous tests, recently closed on $125 million in Series C funding that reportedly brings the company’s value up to $1.25 billion. Pitching itself as a bridge between AVs and traditional automakers, the company aims to bring modern software to the auto industry’s efforts to add autonomous features to their vehicles.

Headed by former Google product manager and software engineer Peter Ludwig, who worked on Android Automotive, Google Maps, and Google My Business, and Y Combinator partner and COO Qasar Younis—previously group product manager at Google Maps—Applied Intuition aims to allow companies to test their AV technology in a variety of mapped locations, scenarios and edge cases. The company intends to use this funding to expand internationally and broaden its product offerings.

Regulators Pay Close Attention To Tesla’s “Full Self Driving” Testing
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced last week that it is closely watching Tesla’s release of “Full Self Driving,” a software version intended to allow its cars to drive themselves—adding that it stood ready to protect the public against safety risks. “The agency will monitor the new technology closely and will not hesitate to take action to protect (the) public against unreasonable risks to safety,” NHTSA said in a statement.