Washington, D.C.- General Motors (GM) and Honda, automakers with more than 160 years of experience between them, have thrown tradition out the window by unveiling the Origin, a new self-driving vehicle.
The six-seat electric vehicle has no steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals, windshield wipers or rearview mirror. Its doors slide rather than swing open. There’s no obvious front or back, like a typical car.
Customers won’t be able to buy an Origin, either. But they will be able to ride in one through a ridesharing app from Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of GM, which Honda has also invested in. Riders enter their destination in the app, similar to using Uber and Lyft, and a vehicle will drive itself to pick them up. Once it arrives, customers enter a code on a keypad outside the vehicle to gain entry. Inside the car, there are buttons for the rider to start or end the trip.
The Origin uses sensors, such as weight and seat belt detection, to identify if someone has entered or exited the vehicle. Cruise executives said removing traditional car features allows for more space for passengers. The sliding doors to the Origin are far wider than a typical vehicle, leaving room for two people to enter or exit at the same time. The vehicle is designed to drive on both city streets and the highway.
GM executives hailed the Origin as the reinvention of mobility that would bring environmental benefits, unclog congested cities and improve road safety. They envision the vehicle running 18 hours a day, reducing the need for private car ownership, which dominates transportation today.
“We know that the bus is better for our environment, but on a Friday in rush hour, saving the planet doesn’t seem worth missing dinner or bedtime with the kids,” Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said. “What’s right for you is now the same thing as what’s right for the world.”
GM (GM) will manufacture the Origin and Honda (HMC)will perform the design engineering, such as customer touch points and styling. Cruise is developingthe self-driving software, sensors and overall product, which it said it has been working on for three years now.